Carmen Gomez

How we learn history and who we learn it from

I recall many years ago when there was an article written in the Spanish press around the moneyed families of Gibraltar who had apparently made their fortune from contraband; typical statements by a country like Spain that never looks at itself in the mirror. Recently in La Sexta they touched upon the debate of the statues or monuments that were being pulled down in the US, of Spanish slave traders.

For as the world confronts its racist history, Spain prefers to ignore its past; when Spanish slave traders many of them later to become aristocrats, often used to count slaves by the ton.

Nevertheless, the Spanish Government has sent the US a note of condemnation for such acts. As it turns out, on said programme they said that Margallo related history as he liked, when he recently spoke of the Spanish Queen Isabel la Catolica; telling half the truth about her and the slave trade. The Marquis De Comillas, a slave trader himself; for whom who believe it or not there is an ongoing process to beatify him; cemented his fortune as slave trader and founded El Banco hispano colonial.

It appears that many important old established institutions like the Spanish banks included the Banco Santander, were founded with slave trade money. They say that it’s not just the fact that the history we don’t know can hurt us; there’s the added danger of how we learn it, and who we learn it from.