Día de la Raza (Columbus Day in Latin America) Date in the current year: October 14, 2024

Día de la Raza (Columbus Day in Latin America) On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas for the first time. The anniversary of his arrival is celebrated in the United States as Columbus Day. However, this name is frowned upon in Hispanic countries and Belize because it is associated with colonization and the oppression of indigenous peoples. The most common alternative name for the holiday is Día de la Raza (Day of the [Hispanic] Race).

The anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first arrival to the Americas was observed for the first time in 1792. The celebration of the 300th anniversary of the historic landing took place in New York City. The first state to officially celebrate Columbus Day was Colorado in 1905. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Columbus Day a federal holiday, effective in 1971. It has been observed on the first Monday of October ever since.

Over the years, many countries in Latin America started to celebrate Columbus Day, too. However, the holiday was met with strong opposition from indigenous activists, who associated Columbus’s arrival with the beginning of colonization and oppression. Eventually, the countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean that continued to celebrate the anniversary of Columbus’s landing gave the holiday a new meaning and name. They replaced Columbus Day with a celebration of indigenous peoples and their resistance against European colonizers.

The holiday is known by different names in different countries:

  • Day of the Race (Día de la Raza) in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Uruguay.
  • Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity (Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural) in Argentina.
  • Day of Indigenous Resistance (Día de la Resistencia Indígena) in Belize and Venezuela; in Belize, it used to be called Pan-American Day (Día Panamericano).
  • Day of the Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance (Día de la Resistencia Indígena, Negra y Popular) in Nicaragua.
  • Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds (Día del Encuentro de Dos Mundos) in Chile.
  • Day of Decolonization (Día de la Descolonización) in Bolivia.
  • Day of the Cultural Identity or Day of the Encounter of Two Cultures (Día de la Identidad y Diversidad Cultural or Día del Encuentro entre dos Culturas) in the Dominican Republic.
  • Day of Interculturality and Plurinationality (Día de la Interculturalidad y la Plurinacionalidad) in Ecuador.
  • Day of the Pluricultural Nation (Día de la Nación Pluricultural) in Mexico.

It should also be noted that some countries celebrate the Day of the Race on October 12, while others have moved it to the second Monday of October, just like the United States. It is a public holidays in some of the countries, but not in all of them.

In Uruguay, the holiday also commemorates the Battle of Sarandí that was fought on October 12, 1825. The battle was part of the Cisplatine War between Argentine and the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata in coalition with the militant revolutionary group Thirty-Three Orientals. The Battle of Sarandí resulted in the Orientals’ decisive victory.

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Columbus Day, Day of the Race, Day of Indigenous Resistance, discovery of the Americas, Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds