Saturday, April 08, 2006

Intervew with Laura Esquivel

Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel says it is time for a re-examination of what resulted from the clash and combination of European and indigenous cultures in Mexico since the early 16th century, and progress beyond what has become a knee-jerk condemnation of the Spanish side.

"The time has come for a better understanding of our mixture of races and to weigh all that the Spaniards brought" to the Mexico whose history began in 1519, she said in an interview with EFE at the presentation of her latest novel, "Malinche" (Suma de Letras, 2006).

"Official" Mexican culture makes something of a cult of the pre-Columbian native world while demonizing the Spanish conquerors, who engaged in widespread massacre, enslavement, rape and robbery. For example, Aztec resister Moctezuma is a popular hero, while Hernán Cortés is universally a complete villian.

At the same time, European-descended and mestizo Mexicans who speak Spanish, the language of the conquerors, have exercised political and economic power since the conquest, while the indigenous - about 10 percent of the population - have languished in abject poverty.

Esquivel called it necessary to cultivate more empathy and sympathy for La Malinche, an indigenous woman stigmatized for having been the interpreter and lover of Cortés.

You can find the interview here

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