Impact of Spanish Civil War on Surrealism Art

 This investigation assesses the significance of surrealist artists’ responses to the Spanish Civil War and how the experiences of the horrific event were documented visually. In order to evaluate such significance, this investigation examines the impact the events the war had on surrealist art in Spain, through the use of primary recounts of the war’s impact on art and visual art history, mostly focusing on works by Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso who became world renowned for their contribution.

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The Spanish Civil War broke out in the summer of 1936, as did the revolution within surrealist art. It was an event that did not just affect people locally, but on an international scale. Although, European art in general was impacted by the war, this investigation will not examine the effect the war had on continental surrealism, thus will only focus on Spanish artists and their work. As the leading artists in this movement were the Spanish born artists Picasso and Dali, they will be the central focus.
Two of the sources used in this essay will assess are Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War by Robin Adèle Greenley and The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí by Salvador Dalí will be evaluated for their origins, purposes, values and limitations.
This investigation does not assess the difference in ideologies (Republicanism versus Nationalism) tearing apart Spain, nor does it assess other surrealist art movements in literature, philosophy, film, architecture or music.
Background on the Spanish Civil War
The summer of 1936 marked the beginning of a landmark event within modern European history: the Spanish Civil War, inviting with it a three-year tumultuous period of terror, destruction and persecution, shattering the nation. Its deep rooting ideological confrontations resulted in the intense commitment of all its participants and the loss of over half a million Spanish lives acted as a stimulus to the various international surrealist movements of the time, inspiring artists of all cultures. The creative energy focused on portraying political ideologies and illusions, the social idealisms and the military take on modern warfare, documenting the hopes and despair of the participants in this Kafkaesque war.
The fall of the crumbling Spanish Monarchy and the dissatisfying Second Republic, and the electoral success of the leftist Popular Front, a rebellion against the newly elected government erupted. The Falange or the Nationalists, lead by General Franco, conducted a nationwide revolt, alongside General Mola. They managed to seize the key cities in Northern Spain, including Madrid. The Catalan and Basque country, both known for their persistent separatist movement, anarchism and socialism, unsurprisingly sided and remained loyal to the Republic. This politically polarized Spain, dividing the country into the Nationalist and Republicans.
Mostly socialists, separatists, artists and intellectuals sided with Republicans. Franco wanted to follow Mussolini’s example and establish a secular conservative regime and was supported mostly by the conservatives, the military, the royalists and the Clergy. Even though the Church and the Falange experienced some friction, they continued to remain in their ‘marriage of convince’ because the Republic was seen as antidisestablishmentarian and lethally temporal. The Nationalists rose against the electoral Popular Front government and finally over threw it.
The interferences from external powers such as Germany and the Soviet Union dragged out the war and worsened the conflict. Horrific events which paralyzed the country, such as the annihilation of the Basque country by the German Luftwaffe’s Blitzkrieg, served as inspiration which sparked the notion of a world exhibition in France, in 1937. The section dedicated to Spain was known was the Pavilion. Many artists, such as Dali, Picasso and Renau were asked to participate; each created a response to the many atrocities which occurred in the past year of the war. It was the first exhibition of its kind, prompting propaganda from countries such as Spain.
Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War
Surrealism, with no exact definition due to its ambiguous nature, is known for ‘imaginative eccentricity’ and became a major movement in the late 1920s and throughout 1930s Europe; mostly in places like Germany and Spain. The twisted yet fantastic reality which surrealism creates is seen as an escape from the actual reality. Surrealist artist art is considered to be closely connected with Freudian psychological analysis, claiming that such warped art is an insight into a deeper psyche.
The surrealist works of the Andalusian painters Dalí and Picasso (amongst others) became signatures of the satirical content of the war, acting as world informants of the paralyzing happenings within the country. Although both artists had very different notions of surrealism, both artists depict the war in a grotesque, incomprehensible, violent and audacious manner which reflected the Civil War in all its accuracy. It can be concluded that the war distorted many perspectives of reality. Traditional elements of surrealism stemmed from the Dadaism movement and were subjected to metamorphosis by many artists who incorporated components from cubism, impressionism, ‘Enlightenment’ and post impressionism as well as various other movements. In its ‘purest form’, surrealism had little or no affect on the civil war, in fact, prior to the war, it was much more submissive and discerning. However, the introduction of war perverted the movement in Spain most notably by Dalí’s Autumn Cannibalism (1936) (fig. 2) and Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War (July, 1936) (fig. 1) and Picasso’s Guernika (1937) (fig. 3). Such works were considered a mutation and mockery of works of artists from previous movements like El Greco whose work was considered contemporary for his time.
The Spanish surrealist art culture became a symbol of the Spanish Civil War as well as its leftist orientation and the Republic. This demonstrated the highly interlinked nature of political and cultural developments in 1930s Spain. Architects, like Alphonse Laurencic, drew inspiration from the twisted works of Dali, Kandinsky and Klee among others to invent a form of ‘psychotechnic’ torture found in the mind-bending prison-cells and torture chambers of Barcelona and elsewhere, built in 1938. Jose Millicua suggested that through the use of the psychological properties of colors and geometric abstraction found in these works, Laurencic created a hell that would physically distort and mentally disturb the victim connecting the growing art culture with the growing militaristic government.
Section C
Evaluation of Sources
Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War was written by Robin Adèle Greenley, a respected art historian, currently Latin American Studies professor at the Connecticut University. The book, published in 2006 by Yale University Press, New Haven, is a critical interpretation of Surrealist art works by five artists, including, Dali and Picasso. The purpose of Greenley’s work is an ‘attempt to unravel the correspondence between aesthetics and politics during the Spanish Civil War’ and focuses on surrealist aspects of the war, how they differed and were affected by the intense struggle plaguing the country. The value of the book is that there is a clear study of the correlation between the art and the events which took place. It is a secondary source, designed mainly for the purpose of educating. Greenley intimately analyzes how ‘artistic practice offers unique insight into the cataclysmic debacle of war.’ The limitation of the book from a historical perspective are the existence of some ‘peculiarities in relation to its subject’ because she examines the surrealist artists and their work immaculately, but fails to draw strong parallels between the political situation of the time and the drastic change of the movement. Her work, although useful, is mostly suited for contemporary aesthetics and critical theory.
The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí was written by Salvador Dali (published in 1942 in its original French, then in 2000, translated into English by Haakon M. Chevalier). The purpose of this source is a memoire, allowing an inside scope to Dali’s life. The source’s value is that it is a direct account from the leading artist of the Surrealist movement, providing the historian with a unique and personal insight as how the war impacted him and his work. Dali is considered one of the few misunderstood artists of his time and here the idea that ‘his genius saves him from chaos’ allows us to understand him more. The book allows a deeper understanding of the awesome painter. It is a primary source and therefore is subjected to personal prejudice. Taking into account that the source is a personal memoire, Dali has grandiose his life and placed a very positive theme to everything he did with is ingenious use of words. This highlights the limitations of the source. However, he acknowledges some of this over-the-top heroism on his part in the central chapters of his prose as ‘false memories’. The memoir written only three years after the war, and passions were still running high in Spain while many people were trying to exonerate themselves from the general violence and anarchy.
Section D
Both the civil war and the surrealist art movement are closely connected and referred to by Greenley, as the public’s awakening of politics and pictures in the politically polarized Spain. It is an accurate description of the relationship between the cultural and political aspects of the war, pointing out how closely connected the two were, although they are often treated as two separate issues within the 1930s.
Common Themes in Surrealist Art
Spain’s political polarization was that of artistic polarization too. The Spanish artistic culture were more than just a visual voice of the war’s terrors; they took a more proactive role within the war, thus recording and commenting on the accounts of the petrifying events from a firsthand perspective. The perversion of the surrealist art movement was done in a manner that possibly was perfectly collaborated between all artists. There is no evidence that suggests this, however. The idea of the body as a political metaphor for the country, the people, the artist, for the audience to relate to was simply a trend that caught on. The lewd art united the people, it was not only those who were suffering on Spanish soils, but those who had suffered from the previous war and the various other struggles that were happening concurrently or had passed recently. The surrealistic art ‘evolved and functioned’ in ways that ‘one can relate his stylistic consistencies to his wild political swings’ Both Greenley and Dalí agree that that surrealism is the portrayal ‘horrific metaphor for the physical annihilation of life.’
Prevalent abstract portrayal in surrealist works
Fundamental components which make up work such as that of Dalí and Picasso were considered contemporary, even for surrealism and, to some extent, were frowned upon and considered the ‘assassination of painting’. These innovative elements found in surrealism seemed to pervert the movement making reality more abhorrent and unnatural, but at the same time it acted as an escape from the living nightmares of their reality allowing life to have a more satirical texture to it. Things such as disembodied humans, genitals, death, destruction, furniture and foods even references to religion and Catholicism became the norm in surrealist works represented the supple irony of the artists’ lives as well as that of the people; they were painting from their perspective of a war that created a reality for the world that was so obscene, it could not be captured any other way
Spain’s political polarization was that of artistic polarization too. The Spanish artistic culture were more than just a visual voice of the war’s terrors; they took a more proactive role within the war, thus recording and commenting on the accounts of the petrifying events from a firsthand perspective. The perversion of the surrealist art movement was done in a manner that possibly was perfectly collaborated between all artists. There is no evidence that suggests this, however. The idea of the body as a political metaphor for the country, the people, the artist, for the audience to relate to was simply a trend that caught on. The lewd art united the people, it was not only those who were suffering on Spanish soils, but those who had suffered from the previous war and the various other struggles that were happening concurrently or had passed recently. The surrealistic art ‘evolved and functioned’ in ways that ‘one can relate his stylistic consistencies to his wild political swings’ Both Greenley and Dalí agree that that surrealism is the portrayal ‘horrific metaphor for the physical annihilation of life.’
Use of media
Elements of Spanish Surrealism became mostly to do with fascism in a farcical, perverse form of display, causing a ‘ruin of surrealism’. This was mostly Dali’s movement, joined with other surrealists like Rene Magritte and Max Ernst. Dali, in particular, served as the main revolutionary artist to this complex way of painting. The constant elements of his works were things he found some sort of fascination in as a child such as food, death, the idea of sexuality, the human anatomy, insects, a crutch, and various other strange items which he later turned into a satirical, metaphorical component for his work.
The idea of the body as a political metaphor became a fast trend throughout Surrealists work. The body came to represent many concepts of the happenings within their lives. It was a metaphor for the artist’s body, a body wounded by war and its ritualized combat, personal strife of civilians and artists, of politicized or sexualized body, an indicator of unconscious desires as well as body mechanisms acting as a transgression of avant-garde within the social context. It was created in a fashion as a universal component; anyone and everyone could relate to the art effortlessly.
Picasso’s Guernika (1937) utilized these aspects to create an unconscious conception of war, where the strong prey on the weak as a response to the Pavilion,capturing the violence and the disruptive nature of the confusion of private sexuality. It was a symbol of Guernica’s struggle and suffering after its violation by the German Blitzkrieg attack.
Dali’s Autumn Cannibalism (1936) also took into consideration these components, as well as his signature elements to represent the Kafkaesque idea of the war with a more ironic twist than Picasso’s art. Dali’s work making mockery of bourgeoisie and the subtle grotesque manner in which this war is carried out, an element of sadomasochistic aggression between the two faceless, closely entwined figures that have an almost parasitic feel to them, turning a seemingly amorous kiss into a fatal, inescapable trap; underlining the murderous violence depicted.
Artists’ social and political issues in their work
A majority of the art responses to the war were surrealist, proving an obvious correlation between the two events. The war had an overwhelming impact of the surrealist art movement inspiring artists such as Dalí and Picasso throughout Spain.
Section E
It is evident the Spanish Civil War had an impact on the surrealist visual art movement and altered, significantly, the ways in which the movement was captured. The fundamental elements and secondary components that such works were composed of obtained many satirical and metaphorical characteristics which were impacted very much by the war.
Previously, the image of the body as a perverse form of political metaphor was not thought of and therefore rarely appeared in surrealist paintings for the mutation of the body was seen as sacrilegious, and in doing so, the already worrying contemporary art became aesthetically tormenting The perverse maturity of the images from artists such as Dalí and Picasso have been used as ideal examples of this epic movement which altered not only the way people saw their reality but the global ideal of art and art history.
The Spanish Civil War did impact surrealist visual art in Spain by forcing the elements of the work not only more uniform among the artists but changed them to represent something more than the war in their minds.

Spanish Language Varieties in Spain and in Mexico

Spanish language varieties in Spain and in Mexico.
George Bernard Shaw regarded Great Britain and America as ‘two countries divided by a common language’. This viewpoint can be also applied to Spain and Mexico, the Spanish-speaking countries with different language varieties and dialects that have been formed under the influence of specific historical, cultural, political and social events. Despite the fact that Spanish is spoken in many countries, the major varieties of Spanish can be observed in Latin America and Spain, where the language, according to Clare Mar-Molinero (2000), “is buoyant and secure” (p.18).

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Spanish belongs to the Indo-European language family and comes from Vulgar Latin language, although Spanish vocabulary consists of Italian, French and Arabic words. Spanish language in Latin America has five major varieties: the Caribbean, the South American Pacific, the Argentinian-Uruguyan-Paraguayan, the Central American, and the Highland (or Standard) Latin American. However, this classification is too generalised, as it is based only on the differences in pronunciation. Due to “the immensity of the territory where Latin American Spanish is spoken” (Lipski, 1994 p.3), linguists analyse language varieties “along geographical, political, ethnic, musicological and social lines” (Lipski, 1994 p.3). The residents of Mexico mainly use the Caribbean and Highland Latin American dialects that emerged after the formation of Peruvian Spanish. Nahuatl dialect that belongs to the Uto-Aztecan language group (Andrews, 1975) and has “the greatest influence in central Mexico” (Lipski, 1994 p.6) is an ancient Spanish dialect. About one million Mexican people speak Nahuatl dialect nowadays. In Spain there are also two principal language varieties – the Castilian and the Andalusian dialects that were formed in the middle ages, although some regions of Northern and Southern Spain create other specific dialects. As Spanish language descends from Castile, the Spanish region that became a centre of political significance since the thirteenth century, the Castilian dialect is one of the most widespread varieties and is accepted as a national criterion in Spain. Mar-Molinero (2000) considers that the phenomenon of ‘Castilianisation’ was initiated by the Visigoths; however, it was only in the eighteenth century when the Castilian dialect displaced other language varieties as a result of Charles’ III 1768 declaration, demonstrating a profound impact of political prevalence on linguistic prevalence. Mar-Molinero (2000) also states that the Andalusian dialect considerably influenced the formation of the Standard Latin American (pp.36-37), although this viewpoint is strongly opposed by sociolinguists. Other crucial language varieties in Spain are Euskara, Galician and Catalan; these dialects have some parallels with Portuguese and French languages, although they do not belong to the Indo-European language family. The emergence of these three Spanish varieties is closely connected with the spread of nationalism. The Levantine varieties also constitute an important group of dialects utilised in such Spanish regions as Alicante, Valencia and Castellón. People in these areas currently use Catalan/Valencian, Murcian, Andalusian, Aragon, and La Manche/Castile dialects.
The differences in all these Spanish language varieties attribute to pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar (Penny, 2000). In particular, pronunciation of the Standard Latin American differs from the Castilian, similar to the dissimilarities between British English and American English. In the Castilian dialect the sounds ‘ce’ or ‘ci’ are changed into ‘th’: ‘gracias’ (thanks) appears as ‘gratheas’; however, in the Standard Latin American the word ‘gracias’ is pronounced as ‘gras-see-as”. Such separate pronunciation of the word ‘grasseeas’ is a characteristic feature of the Standard Latin American dialect. In the Castilian dialect some words are ended in a vocable vowel, losing their last consonants, while two Mexican dialects are characterised by the pronunciation of final consonants. Overall, the speech in Mexico is slow in comparison with the speech in the majority of Spanish regions (Hill & Hill, 1986); however, the Caribbean, or Lowland dialect is defined as a rather prompt and informal variety of Spanish language.
In addition to the differences in pronunciation, there are some differences in grammar. In Mexican Spanish ‘ustedes’ (you) is utilised both for formal and informal address, while in Castilian Spanish there are two words for formal and informal address – ‘ustedes’ and ‘vosotros’, respectively. Some verbs in the Caribbean and Highland Latin American dialects have changed their initial forms, acquiring certain Anglicisms and Americanisms. In particular, Mexican residents say, “Apliqué a la Universidad” (I applied to the university), while Spanish people utilise a more precise form – ‘Postulé a la universidad’. Similarly, Spaniards in Spain prefer to utilise pasado perfecto (the compound tense that is similar to English Present Perfect tense): ‘Yo he viajado a los Estados Unidos’ (I have travelled to the USA). Mexican people use a more simplified tense – pretérito indefinido (English Past Indefinite), for example, “Viajé a Estados Unidos” (I travelled to the USA). According to Julia Kristeva (1989), “Language is so intimately linked to man and society that they are inseparable” (p.3); thus, the utilisation of Anglicisms and Americanisms in Mexican Spanish reflects historical and social differences between Spain and Mexico. Duncan Green (1997) points at the impact of the United States on language and identity of Mexican population; in particular, the author states that “The mass media has become a battleground in the struggle to define Latin American’s identity” (pp.98-99). The simplification of Spanish language in Mexico reveals that various social changes modify language, and language shapes the identity of Mexican people. As Mar-Molinero (2000) states, “Not only does language have an instrumental role as a means of communication, it also has an extremely important symbolic role as marker of identity” (p.3). Due to the fact that social identities of Mexican and Spanish people differ, Spanish language of Mexico and Spain is characterised by a rather diverse vocabulary. For instance, the word ‘Okay’ is translated as ‘Sale’ in Mexico, and as ‘Chungo’ – in Madrid; similarly, the word ‘work’ is rendered as ‘chambear’ in Mexico and as ‘currar’ – in Spain.
Another difference that distinguishes Mexican Spanish from Spanish in Spain is the preservation of archaisms in the Caribbean and Highland Latin American dialects. Such words and expressions as ‘Órale’ (All right), ‘Ya mero’ (almost) or ‘Qué pedo?” (What is going on?) are normal for Mexican Spanish, but they are not utilised in Spain. John Lipski (1994) considers that these language varieties emerged as a result of cultural and social interactions of Spain and Mexico with other countries. The Standard Latin American dialect was considerably influenced by Italian and African immigrants who arrived in Latin America at the end of the nineteenth – the beginning of the twentieth centuries (Lipski, 1994 pp.11-12). Skidmore and Smith (2000) reveal the similar viewpoint, claiming that in Latin America “languages, food, sports, and music all show profound and continuing African influence” (p.356). Simultaneously, the Standard Latin American and the Caribbean dialects reflect native roots, especially Indian roots that are rather distinct in Mexican Spanish. For instance, the language of the Mayans serves as the basis for more than thirty dialects in Mexico, let alone the language of the Aztecs. In particular, many modern Mexican dialects preserve initial and final sounds tl- in certain words, like ‘Nahuatl’, ‘Quetzalcoatl’, the god of Aztecs, or ‘Tlaxcala’, Mexican state. As Skidmore and Smith (2000) point out, “Aside from the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas, there were many other Indian cultures. In the area of modern-day Mexico alone there were over 200 different linguistic groups” (p.14). However, the impact of the Castilian language on the formation of Mexican Spanish is the greatest, as the Castilian was the only language taught in Mexican schools with the arrival of Spanish settlers. Thus, three major aspects aggravated the differences between Spanish spoken in Spain and Spanish spoken in Mexico: Spanish settlements in Mexico, immigration of English, Italian and African people, and finally, linguistic drift.
Analysing Spanish language varieties in Mexico and Spain, the essay demonstrates that the differences mainly exist in spoken language, influencing such linguistic aspects as vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. The Caribbean and Highland Latin American dialects in Mexico and the Castilian and the Andalusian dialects in Spain are characterised by diverse accent, idioms and unique words, but these variants are integral parts of Spanish language. As a result of various social and political changes, modern Mexican Spanish has been exposed to the process of Americanisation, which considerably simplifies vocabulary and grammar of Spanish dialects in Mexico and intensifies the differences between Mexican Spanish and Spanish spoken in Spain. The spread of travels and mass media changes Spanish language in both Mexico and various areas of Spain, revealing unique cultural identities of different Spanish-speaking groups.    
Andrews, J. R. (1975) Introduction to Classical Nahuatl. Austin, University of Texas.
Green, D. (1997) Faces of Latin America. Nottingham, Russell Press, Latin American Bureau.
Hill, J. H. and Hill, K.C. (1986) Speaking Mexicano. Tucson, University of Arizona Press. 
Kristeva, J. (1989) Language: The Unknown An Initiation Into Linguistics. London, Harvest Wheatsheaf.
Lipski, J.M. (1994) Latin American Spanish. London, New York, Longman.
Mar-Molinero, C. (2000) The Politics of Language in the Spanish-Speaking World from Colonization to Globalization. London, New York, Routledge.
Penny, R. (2000) Variation and Change in Spanish. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Skidmore, T. E. and Smith, P.H. (2000) Modern Latin America. 5th edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Impact of Spanish Colonization on Indigenous People in Trinidad and Tobago

The days were long and arduous and the ships sailed for hours hoping to discover something, they became impatient and discouraged and was at the merge of giving up, then suddenly out into the sea they there was the sight of land grounds, “Look ahead men, its land…I’M AFRAID THIS IS PERHAPS A NEW WORLD!” A seaman named Christopher Columbus became obsessed with the possibility to pioneering a western sea route and the gold and spice islands of Asia. Taking that in great consideration Columbus and his men arrived in the new world for three simple reasons, Gold, God and Glory. Many believed that there was limited source of gold and so the amount of gold an empire had determined how rich their economy was. Europeans alleged at that time, the world was a flat surface but however Columbus challenged that principle. He thought to himself that the world was round and wanted to prove his theory and obtain great riches for and spices hence the reason he wanted to set sailed with his men, hoping to discover India. India was known for its glorious gold and riches. Columbus formulated a theory called the Enterprise of the Indies and since India was known for its many resources, he thought that it was profitable to use the sea route to get there. It was suggested that passing on land routes included payments of many taxes and so decided it take such alternative. The trip therefore had to be sponsored but unfortunately he was rejected several times by the king and queen of Spain. He tried convincing them that he would discover great possessions that would enhance their economy and that he would also spread their religion of Christianity, but his efforts were to no avail. However, that was until after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492. The Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, and so agreed to support his voyage. In this essay I will examine both the mayor reasons for the Spanish arrival in the new world and analyze the impacts that their colonization had on the indigenous people in Trinidad and Tobago.

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To acquire gold, spread the word of god and accomplish glory, were indeed the most important reasons for the Spanish’s arrival in the new world. In Columbus’ times gold was very limited and a wealthy nation would be determined by the amount of gold it’s economy owned. Columbus wanted to provide evidence that the world was indeed round and that he could sail to obtain the immense riches of India to return to his country. However on doing so he discovered land that was referred to as the new world, this is known today as the Caribbean and North, South and Central America. On arriving at the land, to Columbus’ astonishment, it was in fact an existing world. Therefore the Spanish were obviously not the first set of people to discover the new world and was not the first settlers there. Different types of indigenous people were the primary settlers that journeyed to the Caribbean. They were great hunters and to obtain food would hunt animals to consume. However with diverse weather conditions animals tend to migrate a lot to find an environment that suits them best. Parallel to this, the indigenous groups migrated a lot in search of food and so as a result settled in the Caribbean and Americas. Two sets of these indigenous tribes that remained in Trinidad were called the Tanios and the Kalinagos. They had unique cultures and lifestyles from that of the Spanish. Luckily the Spanish was worshipped by the Amerindians because they saw them as Gods. This was so because of the white complexion of their skin and they were immediately welcomed. The natives thought that if they serve them with whatever they desired they would be richly blessed since they were Gods.
The Spanish soon after started controlling the groups of indigenous tribes. They forced them to work for no pay and soon there freedom was taken away from them. Their lands and riches were possessed by the Spanish settlers and they enslaved the Amerindians. The word of God was a very important factor to the Spanish and they took their religion of Christianity very seriously. The Spanish settler’s religious beliefs were also extended to the indigenous people and they were forced not to practice their own culture. Their religion of Christianity was made compulsory and the natives were forced to speak their language. There traditional religious beliefs were stamped out and were replaced by Christianity. The Spanish believed that once they had the ability to make someone reject their own god and worship theirs, they would have great control over that person and so that is exactly what they did to the Amerindians. Once their religion was delivered to the world, the Spanish’s empire would be exceedingly contented and so they achieved a main reason for their arrival.
Another reason the settlers came was to obtain glory, this however summarizes some aspects which includes land, power and wealth and so Spain became flooded with magnificence and wealth after conquering the new lands. European nations became wealthier because of the precious metals such as gold and diamonds that they obtained from the new world. They cultivated many lands and produced large amounts of harvest; they enslaved the Amerindians and offered no pay at all. Spain gained great power and prestige; they dominated the Americas and possessed a vast amount of land and wealth. The country reined for a very long time after Columbus’ discoveries, bringing jealousy to other countries. To the Europeans, the widespread of their Christianity beliefs was named very well for them. Columbus’ voyages was a great beginning for Europeans, it made them explore even more. Trading exportations of large quantities of goods and raw materials was available along with other positive features. The Amerindians had also introduced tobacco, corn and cassava to the Spanish. They acquired and learned great skills from the Amerindians, for example how to build their houses to withstand hurricanes. After the voyages, few negative effects were also bought to the Europeans nations. This included lots of jealousy and rivalry among European nations which caused many wars. The Europeans also obtained diseases such as yellow fever and malaria from the Amerindians resulting in many deaths.
The Spanish colonization however had major negative impacts on the indigenous people that settled in Trinidad such as the decrease of the population, family separation, starvation and the lost of their culture and tradition. The most prominent amongst them all was genocide and annihilation. The indigenous population decreased drastically after being enslaved by the Spanish. The Amerindians, were killed in the defensive wars they undertook against the Spanish to preserve their freedom. They lost battles to the Spanish and died rapidly because their weapons were made from bones, stones and shells and so they could not have competed with that of the Spanish. The Spanish had in possession, more superior arms and weapons that included guns, canons, dangerous explosives and gunpowder and was successful in dominating the indigenous people. Some also died from many European diseases such as small pox, measles and influenza. Because the indigenous people were not immune to these diseases they became exceedingly ill and consequentially they eventually died. Being enslaved, some natives were separated from their families, which caused a major breakdown. They were not familiar with the nature of work and unknown lifestyle forced onto them by the Spanish and the harsh treatments received so this resulted in a great loss of the population.
The Amerindians were also fatalistic and believed when bad things happened, the Gods were against them and seeing that they saw the Europeans as gods, as stated earlier, some committed suicide since they were treated so ruthlessly. Others, after being brutally enslaved and submitted to a meager diet of cassava and sweet potatoes, died from malnutrition and overwork in the mines or plantations. They died from starvation because they were not liberated to obtain the food they would normally consume. They were starved and treated as slaves. The indigenous people were also used for sport purposes by the Spanish. The Spanish saw them as lesser bodies and so to test the sharpness of one’s blade or weapon, they would cut off the neck of an Amerindian. Some also committed infanticide. Others ran away to other island where they could be concealed while some just surrendered.
Another major impact that the Spanish colonization had on the indigenous people was the lost of their culture and tradition. After being taken over by the Spanish settlers they were stripped of their unique cultures. It was on Columbus’ third voyage he discovered Trinidad. The two groups of indigenous people that survived in Trinidad, the Tanios and Kalinagos had different characteristics and so those features were abolished after being forced to live by another way of life. The arawaks, sub group of the tanios were the first set of people discovered by Spanish and was seen as very peaceful and sedentary beings. The arawaks, short, copper colored, having long black and straight hair, survived from agriculture, hunting and fishing, they grew a soft variety of corn and sweet potato. They also knew how to make cassava bread using an elaborate process to leach out the poisonous juice of its roots.
The arawaks society was simply a very calm culture The Arawaks society was basically a very calm culture. It was classed into contentment, friendliness and was a highly organized paternal society. Each society contained a small kingdom and every kingdom had a leader, call a cacique. At the time when Columbus arrived, there were five different kingdoms, all was then in fact divided separated and dismantled. The culture of the arwaks involved having two or three wives and the cacique had about thirty. Women enjoyed a materially superior lifestyle being the wife of the cacique and also their children were held in high esteem. The religious myths of the arawaks were polytheists and their Gods were called ZEMIS. Religious practices of the zemis included worshiping and obeisance to the zemis themselves accompanying dancing and took place in the village courts during special festivals. Medicine men or priest also consulted the zemis for advice and healing, this was also done in public ceremonies with songs and dances. The Europeans however took away those valuable practices and cultures from them after conquering their lands. They forced them to abide by their rules and regulations and stripped their way of life viciously. The tanios have now totally disappeared from the surface of the earth.
The other group of indigenous people that was found in Trinidad was the caribs, a sub group of the Kalingao tribe. This tribe had olive skin, long straight hair and was a handsome people of great stature. Their foreheads and noses were flat since they flattened their heads, believing it to be a sign of beauty and perfection. They were not farmers but however great fishermen. Their religious beliefs involved abstaining from pigs, salt and turtles were practiced. Human sacrifices were also part of these rituals. Their culture was also somewhat of the arawaks. They had a head chief called the ubutu, who was selected because of strength and skill. Their manner was quite fierce and warlike. When conquered by the Spanish these indigenous people was also enslaved and they were also forced to live their lifestyle. Nevertheless, some people of this tribe still exist today in parts of the world and their culture has therefore survived to some extent. Life has changed dramatically for the carib people who traditionally are shy and retiring. However, many feel that they currently do not receive the attention they deserve and are vigilant in their determination not to suffer from exploitation; a fate that has bedeviled many indigenous peoples throughout the world.
The Spanish colonization indeed impacted negatively on the indigenous people’s depletion and it also resulted in lost of their culture. Conversely, few positive impacts was also accomplished and introduced to the Amerindians. Technology was introduced to them by the Spanish for instance, ship building, also the skills of using navigational instruments. In addition to that European crops were bought in like banana, wheat, rice, coffee and olive. Animals were also imported such as horses, cows, pigs and chicken. The Spanish are not only the cause of the whipping out of the indigenous tribe but also plays an important role in the development of Trinidad. The Spanish governor who made the most significant impression on Trinidad was Don Jose Marla Chacon, after whom the national flower, the chaconia has been named. Chocon was an astute administrator who settled in many depute, declared Port of Spain the captial city of Trinidad today and also initiated development in the more remote parts of the island. Today many Spanish names of places exits in Trinidad, these include Rio-Claro, San-Fernando, Santa Flora, Santa Rosa, Barataria and many more.
The language of the Spanish still exists and is officially the second language of Trinidad and Tobago. Some Amerindian names also exist as well in Trinidad today for example, Caura which means heavily wooded valley and Caroni. These two places are fun for its fascinating places of interest. There is the Caura River which is an interesting place to visit for recreational purposes. The Caroni Bird Sanctuary is known for the view of wonderful birds of numerous characteristics. There is also the Caroni Swamp which is also a historical place of interest in Trinidad. The history of the Spanish Colonization is indeed a unique aspect of our culture today.

Spanish Language in the United States


Despite the bilingual policy in the USA, Spanish speakers are still reporting numerous incidences of discrimination against their language (Fuller, 2013). Employed Latinos have reported that their bosses continuously warn them against speaking in their language. Similarly, students and young children state that their colleagues are always scolding them for speaking in an ugly language. Furthermore, adult citizens are terrified of speaking Spanish because of the harassments hailed at them by law enforcement officers and white supremacists (Fuller, 2013). In one incident, a lawyer was caught shouting at a waiter and his customers simply because they were not speaking in his English. In another scenario, two women reported harassments by police officers in Montana who demanded to see their identification documents having heard them speaking Spanish. One grocery chain called Albertsons has also been under investigation for enforcing a ‘No Spanish Policy’ in its stores. Clearly, these reported incidences together with other undocumented or unreported cases justify that language discrimination in the USA is still imminent. In this paper, a discussion is presented based on the argument that stripping one’s language is stripping a person’s identity.

Origins of Spanish Language from Early Settlements in the USA

Historical accounts of Spanish early settlement in the USA date back to 1513 when the first group of Spanish colonizers arrived in Virginia (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). Spanish soldiers were considering Virginia as part of Florida. As such they wanted to expand the territory and establish a colony in the region. Even though Spanish soldiers did not succeed in colonizing the USA, the population remained in America and multiplied over the years to become the second largest ethnic group in the country (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). As the USA gained political and economic stability in the reconstruction era, various European immigrants moved to settle here hence causing an instant increase in population. Among them were the Spanish families who migrated to Virginia and Florida before spreading to other parts of the USA. Accordingly, Latinos started moving to the USA during this period in which many people migrated from Cuba, Mexico, South and North America.

Statistics of Spanish Speakers in the USA

The population of Spanish speakers in the USA is estimated at 52 million. This figure represents 16.7% of the national population hence becoming the second-largest ethnic group in the country (Fuller, 2013). It is believed that Hispanics and Latinos have greatly contributed to the population growth of minority groups in the USA. Between 2000 and 2007, the population growth rate of Hispanics was 28.7%, a figure higher than the national population growth rate which was 7.2% at that time (Fuller, 2013). Accordingly, the growth rate of Hispanics was recorded at 3.4% between 2005 and 2006, while the national population growth rate was only 1.0%. Apparently, it is due to such a higher rate of growth which has facilitated a rapid increment in the population of Hispanics and Latinos in the USA. From the results of the 2010 census, it was revealed that Hispanics population remains the highest recorded value ever of minority groups in 191 out of 366 metropolitan regions which are recognized in the USA (Fuller, 2013). It is also projected that such higher rates of growth will maintain in the next 30 years hence bringing the population of Hispanics to a total of 132.8 million in 2050 in the USA. When expressed as a percentage, the value equals to 30.2% of the national population as projected in the same year.

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According to the geographic distribution of Hispanics and Latinos in the USA, East Los Angeles has the highest number, with a total of 97% of the region’s population were Hispanics or Latinos. Closely following is Laredo, Texas with a total of 94%, Brownsville, Texas with a total of 91%, and Hialeah, Florida with a total of 90%. Other regions with notably high populations of Hispanics and Latinos are; McAllen, Texas with 80%, El Paso, Texas with a total number of 77%, Santa Clara, California totalling 76%, El Monte, California registering 72%, Oxnard, California with a total of 66%, and Miami closing the top list with a total of 66% (Fuller, 2013). According to the 2010 census, these are the most populous regions in the USA dominated by Hispanic majorities. Statistics also indicate that over 60% of the Hispanic and Latino population in the USA migrated from Mexico. The dominance of Hispanics of Mexican ancestry might have been influenced by the Mexican-American culture. On the other hand, the remaining 40% of Latinos are said to have originated from the Caribbean, South America, and North America.

The Debate over Immigration and Language

Due to restrictive immigration policies in the USA, Hispanics and Latinos have become subjects of threats and intimidation against deportation. The US administration has been vocal toward the deportation of undocumented immigration but the message seems to squarely target Hispanics and Latinos because they are the most population group among the minority communities (Fuller, 2013). In order to regulate immigration, the US government constituted various principles under which a person can be legally allowed to the country. These principles include; family-based immigration which applies for immediate relatives or individuals whose certifications suit the requirements of the family preference system (Valdés, 2006). Secondly, there exists employment-based immigration which permits foreigners who are deemed beneficial to the growth of the US economy. Thirdly, there are regulations such as; per country ceilings, diversity visa program, and protection of refugees.

In most instances, these laws have been successfully enforced against immigrants from far countries and continents. However, the regulations often fail against immigrants from neighboring countries like Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Citizens from these countries simply cross the borders into the USA without following a proper documentation program (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). That is one of the reasons why law enforcement officers are always on the search for illegal Hispanics and Latinos in the USA. In a bid to restrict the illegal migration of these populations, Congress has established the DREAM Act as well as the DACA policy (Valdés, 2006). These regulations protect children and adults who have proved that they were brought to the USA as minors but are now in the process of obtaining legal documentation. DACA protects any individual with unlawful presence in the USA from deportation and facilitates eligibility for work permit renewable every two years. This policy does not guarantee citizenship rights and its temporary protection only benefits individuals with no criminal records. On the other hand, the DREAM Act grants permanent residency to qualifying aliens who reportedly entered the USA as minors (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015).

The Official Language of the US

On the concept of languages in the USA, English is recognized as the official language and it is used in the government, national institutions, and schools (Cobas & Feagin, 2008). Additionally, English is the most dominant language in the USA used in public communications, convenience stores, sports, hotels, and residential areas. However, the depiction of English as a formal language should not disqualify the use of minority languages in private conversations. Sadly, the situation in the USA is becoming unbearable day by day as many Hispanics and Latinos continue to lament about their discriminative experiences.


The hardships faced when moving to a new country

Racism in the U.S.

A survey conducted among Hispanics and Latinos has indicated that members of these minority groups have been anxious and weary owing to the building threats of deportation (Valdés, 2006). In fact, some of the undocumented Latinos are no longer at ease of seeking public services like medication or travel passports. They fear that such services may prompt their legal identifications hence raising serious concerns about their legality of residence in the USA. Accordingly, even the documented parents in a constant state of tension because they fear the instantaneous twists in laws which might be interpreted erroneously to intensify their calls for deportation (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). Hispanics and Latinos say that the government of the day has failed to give them assurance about their safety in the USA.

There are many emerging issues which are clearly indicating that Hispanics and Latinos are the main targets of the government’s restrictive actions. To start with, the government has deliberately lowered the bar for deportations to extreme points which generally threaten the lives of two-thirds of Hispanics and Latinos (Valdés, 2006). These minority groups have claimed that the regulations are punitive and only meant at discriminating them due to their high population as compared to any other group of color. Minority families in the USA have expressed their worries against the administration which is being accused of revitalizing white supremacy (Cobas & Feagin, 2008). Students, workers, and the elderly from Hispanic and Latino groups are no longer assured of their safety in the USA.

Another incidence of targeted racism against Hispanics and Latinos is the emerging issue of family separations at the border. Law enforcement officers and authorities from U.S Customs and Border Protection maintain are implanting laws separating children and their parents at the US-Mexico border (Cobas & Feagin, 2008). It had become a matter of concern as to why Hispanics and Latino children should be denied rights of protection by their parents when the government clearly understands the significance of parental guidance in a child’s development. However, the administration has been silent and reluctant in solving these issues thereby confirming the fears of targeted racism against minority groups. Accordingly, Hispanics and Latinos have decried the declining protections for children as well as the reversal of the Affordable Care Act (Valdés, 2006). On a critical evaluation, these adjustments were primarily focused on scaring Hispanics and Latinos. It is unfortunate that a country which once embraced diversity is slowly its patience and appears to be forcefully sending immigrants to their native countries.

Lack of Assimilation 

When migrating to another a country, one constant fear which keeps roaming in an individual’s mind is lack of assimilation. For an immigrant to be fully accepted in a new society, he or she needs to be assimilated in the new community (Cobas & Feagin, 2008). However, there are some differences which cannot be assimilated hence causing an outright identification of immigrants when they settle in another region. Now, in the case of Hispanics and Latinos, it has become difficult for these populations to be assimilated and legally accepted in the USA due to some outstanding reasons.

To start with, Hispanics and Latinos make up the second largest ethnic group in the USA. As a result, these people are fighting for their autonomy and recognition as a majority community in the USA (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). In addition, the populations are spread across the nation hence making them confident of their position in the country. However, this struggle to uphold diversity and cultural values has also worked against Hispanics and Latinos in very extreme ways. The communities have remained on the government’s radar for their increasing population and prevalence of Spanish speakers in the streets and convenience stores. These people even use their language in formal situations like in the workplace hence attracting the attention of law enforcement officers.

Lack of assimilation has also made Hispanics and Latinos be targeted by the government more than any other minority group. These people have a distinct accent, culture, and beliefs which they practice across the USA. Instead of embracing the USA culture, Hispanics and Latinos are trying to compete against the majority population hence making them be followed closely by the government (Valdés, 2006). Unlike other black Americans living in the USA, Hispanics and Latinos are very slow at acquiring assimilation hence causing regular wrangles with law enforcement officers. In addition, they are perceived as a threat to the majority population which has been assimilated to the USA culture and also uses English as the official language.

Backlash for speaking Spanish

Even though Hispanics and Latinos are regarded as minority groups in the USA, their populations are restricted from using the languages in public places. The U.S Customs and Border Protection officials together with other law enforcement officers are constantly looking for individuals speaking Spanish to verify their legality of staying in the USA (Valdés, 2006). These high levels of concern arise from the fact that many Hispanics are Latinos are crossing the US-Mexico border without legal documentation. In addition, these minority groups have become notorious in the USA due to their increasing population thereby making it necessary for the government to impose strict regulations on them.

In the process of enforcing restrictions on Hispanics and Latinos, the government has also triggered fear and tension among these minority groups (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). At some points, Spanish speakers have even staged protests aimed at restoring equality and fairness before the law. However, it is the government’s reluctance in addressing their concerns which have resulted in a backlash for speaking Spanish. There are many sampled cases in which Spanish speakers have been harassed or discriminated by law enforcement but no further action is being taken to rectify the situation. For instance, students from South and Central America have accused their classmates of ridiculing them for speaking Spanish. Sadly, the administration appears not to be overly concerned with these issues because schools are promoting English as the official language.

Accordingly, immigrant employees from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Cuba, and Colombia claim that their bosses are regularly warning them against speaking Latino because other white customers might be scared. Even if a customer is served at the moment is a Spanish speaker, employees are not allowed to deviate from English because such acts can create a negative reputation for a restaurant or any other convenience store. Fears of speaking Spanish have continued to increase in the past few years following an incident in which two women were apprehended by border officials for speaking Spanish. They were released after displaying their identification documents which confirmed their legality of residence in the USA. In another incidence, a lawyer shouted a customer for speaking Spanish at a convenience store. From these scenarios, it is clear that Spanish speakers are threatened in the USA and that might the major cause of backlash.

Fear of losing their roots

Statistics of the new generation with immigrant backgrounds not speaking the native language

Due to rising fears of discrimination among Hispanics and Latinos, new findings indicate that native Spanish speakers are abandoning their languages and learning English (Cobas & Feagin, 2008). This trend is perceived as one step toward attaining assimilation and cohesion in the US communities. Results from Census statistics and Pew Research Center indicate that 16.7% of the national population had been speaking Spanish in the past decades (Valdés, 2006). However, this figure has been declining because Hispanic and Latino’s populations are becoming bilingual while others are completely abandoning their native languages. English is increasingly becoming dominant in the country thus making it difficult for Spanish speakers to survive in the public space. Accordingly, the percentage of Hispanics who use English in their residential homes is expected to increase as these people are bowing to societal pressure and restrictions from the government (Saenz, 2004). For instance, results from the Pew Research Center indicated that only 25% of Latinos were using English in their homes in 2010. However, the figure is expected to increase to 34% hence indicating that many Spanish families will be using English in the future (Fuller, 2013).

Afraid to confirm stereotypes

The position of Hispanics and Latinos in the USA has been threatened by stereotypes which associated the population with illegal immigration. The US Customs and Border officials are convinced that most of the Latinos in the USA are not legally documented to reside in the country (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). That is why law enforcement officers are persistently seeking to interrogate anyone who is reported to have spoken Spanish. It is stereotyped that immigrants who are fluently speaking languages associated with South and Central America are people who have not stayed in the US long enough to learn English. Accordingly, these people are associated with illegal activities like smuggling of goods and drug business. Therefore, Latinos are shying away from their languages in order to avoid being linked to an outlawed activity. Worse still, speaking Spanish can only attract the attention of law enforcement officers who can file a false case hence complicating issues (Saenz, 2004). Therefore, as a way of staying completely safe from such stereotypes, many Hispanics and Latinos are learning English.

Insecurities tied with background

While Hispanics and Latinos are considering the need for adopting English, there are increasing worries tied with their cultural backgrounds (Saenz, 2004). In essence, abandoning one’s culture and traditions is not an informed decision even if the discussions of assimilations are concerned. Hispanics and Latinos need to strike a balance between their fears of being stereotyped and their allegiance to traditional practices. Of course, the decisions are highly associated with undesirable consequences but the government also needs to recognize that Latinos are part of the diverse USA culture. The dilemma which exists here is that Latinos have become wary of the threats deportation and continued discrimination whenever they use their language (Cobas, Duany & Feagin, 2015). On the other hand, they fear to embrace another English language because this decision will ruin their culture and identity. For many years, this stalemate has been difficult to solve even though findings are indicating that Hispanics and Latinos are adopting the English language in their daily use.


From the arguments discussed in this paper, it can be confirmed that stripping one’s language is stripping a person’s identity. The justification for this statement has been revealed in the essay which discussed how Hispanics and Latinos are threatened to be deported if they cannot be fully assimilated in the US culture. It has been observed that Hispanics and Latinos make 16.7% of the US national population, hence making them the second largest group in the country. However, their identity is threatened by the strict regulations being imposed by the government thereby limiting the use of Spanish in communications. Law enforcement officers and border officials are stricter on the issue of Hispanics and Latinos to the extent that they interrogate anyone who is heard speaking in those languages. Accordingly, Hispanics and Latino employees are facing similar predicaments in their daily lives because they face discrimination for speaking in native languages. Similar problems have been faced by students and children who risk being separated from their parents at the border. Considering the discussions contained in this paper, it can be stated that the main solution can be mass documentation for all Hispanics and Latinos in the USA so that the government can embrace diversity while also regulating illegal migration.


Cobas, J. A., & Feagin, J. R. (2008). Language oppression and resistance: The case of middle-class Latinos in the United States. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(2), 390-410.

Cobas, J. A., Duany, J., & Feagin, J. R. (2015). How the United States Racializes Latinos: White hegemony and its consequences. Routledge.

Fuller, J. M. (2013). Spanish Speakers in the USA (Vol. 9). Multilingual Matters.

Saenz, R. (2004). Latinos and the changing face of America (pp. 352-79). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Valdés, G. (Ed.). (2006). Developing minority language resources: The case of Spanish in California (Vol. 58). Multilingual Matters.