Panamerica

Si Somos Americanos

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                 I

Si somos americanos*      

                                         By Rolando Alarcón

Si somos americanos,

somos hermanos señores,

tenemos las mismas flores,

tenemos las mismas manos.

 

Si somos americanos,

seremos buenos vecinos,

compartiremos el trigo,

seremos buenos hermanos.

`

Bailaremos marinera,

resbalosa, huayno y son.

Si somos americanos,

seremos una canción.

 

Si somos americanos,

no miraremos fronteras,

cuidaremos las semillas,

tiraremos las banderas.

 

Si somos americanos,

seremos todos iguales,

el blanco, el mestizo, el indio

y el negro son como tales             

* in Spanish, capitalization is often different than in English.

           

 

                           II

If We Are Americans

If we are Americans

We’re family my friends,

We’ve the same flowers,

and the same hands.

 

We dance the marinera,

resbalosa, huayano and son,

When we are Americans

We are a song.

 

If we are Americans

there are no borders

we care for seeds,

not a nation’s flags.

 

If we are Americans

we are all the same,

White, indigenous, mixed,

and black are one.

 

 

                                    III

 I have taken some  little translation liberties like introducing gender neutrality because I feel these are essential and inevitable to t translation appropriate to the times.  Just as when we read we interpret and and translate and recreate and modify word symbols in our mind. What, for example, is a cow?  Whch one, what color, breed, something else entirely? The reader decides.  Among the folk songs of the Americas there are many that express the feeling of discrimination and isolation from the dominant culture… like Angelitos Negros, where the poet asks why there are no black cherubs or angels.

 

 Alarcón became a music teacher in the 70s,  and was a communist, revolutionary, homosexual, and widely acclaimed poet folk singer associated with wold famous folk groups. His songs are often accompanied by altiplano flute and charango, a small guitar often  built on an armadillo shell. The huayano is an altiplano ONE- two- three step dance. The son is  a generic word for Mexican folk dance.

 Chileans are notorious as poets, miners, and engineers who must build to withstand recurring earthquakes.  The first American woman Nobel laureate was  Gabriela Mistral  Mistral lived in Valle del Elqui, a long  remote Andes valley where the  high air is so clear it has attracted the world’s biggest collection of international observatories. Neruda is another Nobel laureate poet. Rolando  Alarcón was born in Sewell, Chile, an old High Andes company owned mining town, at El Teniente Mine; it is still the largest underground mine in the world ; It operates within one mountain on multiple levels; the rock crusher,  mill, flotation process,  kitchen and restaurant are interconnected by 2500 km of two lane highways in  huge air washed tunnels, with traffic lights; miners enter and leave by train on the lower level. 

The Americas are home to lots of deep or fascinating cultural stuff; like some of my mother in law’s  Gajardo family that includes the first woman engineer in the Americas,   Justicia Espada… Justice Sword  — her parents refused to give their children family names. The  link includes the names of her siblings.  Perhaps those wierd names made them eccentric; see  Gajardo’s Moon   post on this blog.

I think this old song is timely because it enunciates  some current attitudes of many  pan-american and pan-african indigenous peoples; and  those of many of the world’s transnational millennials, who want to live like one-world citizens.  Further, perhaps there is some sort of connection between  the sentiments expressed in the folk  poem, and those of  that stunning political pyromaniac, The Bern,  and  with those of  Moisés Naím, in   The End of Power) also reviewed on this blog.

 

 

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1491 by Charles Mann: Book Review

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1491

By Charles C Mann

2005, Vintage ISBN -10:I-4000-3205-9

Based on many sources of objective evidence from the last few decades, the author makes a solid and extensively documented case that our common concept of the Americas before ‘discovery’ is hugely erroneous. For example:

  • The population several areas was several times that of Europe.
  • The inhabitants were usually taller, more hygienic, and healthier than the ‘discoverers’, the colonists or conquistadores.
  • They actively managed their environment, the land, the animals, birds, estuaries, and forests. They burned the forests and grasslands to promote feed and to clear land for farming. They managed game aggressively over millions of acres of land.  Even in places like the Chihuahua desert, the hillsides still often show rough man made terracing to promote growth of native plants used for food, fiber, fuel, etc. After the ‘indians’ were decimated or conquered, the environment, no longer managed, changed radically.
  • They developed, over centuries, many crops like corn, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, manioc; the origin of corn, for example, and the process used to develop it, is still unknown.
  • They domesticated the llama, alpaca,vicuna.
  • The developed and inhabited areas are extensive over our two continents.  In the flood plane of  eastern Bolivia,  which is Serengeti like, there are hundreds of man made raised platforms presumably for farming or living during the time of flooding.
  • When an area of the great mounds near modern St Louis were first  explored, the natives were many, fierce, and so haughty and hostile that the fearful conquistadores passed by quietly as possible. The next large expedition about 70 years later found the place abandoned. There was no one. Why? Very likely microbes and viruses, the real conquistadores, wiped them out.
  • The same microbial conquerors made it  possible for the English colonists to subdue the natives of the East coast U S; and the story is repeated over and over and over again everywhere in the Americas. Neither gunpowder nor horses had much to do with the conquest excepting in the very beginning, when they were strange and frightening. A slow firing musket or pistol, and a steel sword and armor are no match for hundreds of bows and arrows fired from behind cover.

Mr. Mann’s allegations, to use the unfortunate legalistic patois of the modern US citizen, are in sharp contrast to what is still commonly taught in our schools; it contradicts our predominant view of the American past as a virgin land populated by primitive people  who, with few exceptions, lived a nomadic existence in a passive, reverent, and  respectful harmony with the timeless and unchanged environment. While fictional pristine world is one we tend to admire and aspire to recreate, with some justification, it is that is mistaken for the truth.

While is not the first author to present these facts, he is one who brings them together in a readable and gripping account that can be easily enjoyed by the non academic reader.  Read it if you aren’t familiar with these findings; at the least it will change your understanding about the allegation the one world is new and the other is old.