14 January 1999 Edition

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Mála Poist

History demolished

A chairde,

I have just heard news which shocks me. I am told that Lord George Hill's Gweedore Hotel on the Clady Road in Gweedore has been demolished.

This building from the first half of the 19th century embodied a vital part of the history of North West Donegal, indeed, I would go further and suggest that this building should have been established as a national monument. It incorporated almost the entire social and political history of Gweedore and the surrounding parishes. From Hill's own `Notes from Gweedore' - a fascinating historical document - it is possible to go back in time to the years of rapacious landlordism, land seizure, famine times and the whole aura of condescension which the landlords showed to the local population. Hill wrote these notes from the hotel he had built to prove how much he had `civilised' the native population. And it was to the hotel he attracted eminent figures from England - Thomas Carlyle and the authoress of `John Halifax Gentleman' were amongst his guests - in order to demonstrate his `civilising activities'.

As an architect I believe, in general, that buildings are far less important than people. Architecture is, in the main, just inert material. But there are some buildings which quite clearly embody living history. I write as one who spent many years in the area preparing a social plan for the region. In this context The Gweedore Hotel became one of the most important buildings in my life. I even once did a project (for free) for its private owner because I was concerned for its future. Its destruction is nothing short of vandalism and it shocks me to think there was no protest over its demolition. North West Donegal has now lost - forever - an integral part of its social history. I am not a traditionalist in any shape or form but I believe in continuity - the past clearly influences the present and therefore the future. For many years I have considered Donegal my `home from home' but at the moment I don't even feel I want to return. Why not just cover the place in concrete and forget that anything ever happened?

Brian Anson

Mexican and Guatemalan Indians

A chairde,

We share extensive sustainable development projects with Indian communities and cooperatives in Mexico and Guatemala and, therefore, spend a great deal of time down there. We were in Mexico and Guatemala during the time Gerry Adams was in Mexico [last month] and were very pleased with the statements he made in support of the Zapatista communities. We clipped front page stories in the Guatemala City and Mexico City newspapers that interpreted what Gerry said in a most positive, intelligent and constructive manner. He clearly outlined the natural affinity existing between Irish Republicans and Mexican rebels.

Regarding ``Latino''. Latin is the language of the Roman Empire. Spanish is a romance language as in Roman. Referring to Mexico, Central and South America as Latin America is like referring to Ireland as Great Britain. Mexico and Guatemala are Indian countries. 80-90% of the blood in the Mexican population is Indian. If that is a little known fact, it is because the European Invaders reduced the Indian population of central Mexico from 20 million to one million in the 101 years from the Cortez invasion of 1519 to the time of the Spanish census in 1620. It was deny your identity or die - they died anyway. To identify yourself as an Indian in Mexico is still an act of bravery...identified Indians are at the economic bottom in a poor country.

People call themselves Latinos for protection and survival. Does that sound familiar?

The irony is that Mexico is still an Indian country because the Spanish Crown killed non-Catholic Europeans who attempted to enter Mexico during the 300 years that it was New Spain. Only 300,000 Catholic Spaniards settled in Mexico during those 300 years...and many returned to Spain. (Indians in this US area had no such luck with their Europeans.) Very expensive slaves were kidnapped from Africa because there weren't enough Indians alive to work the gold and silver mines and cotton plantations.

Spanish policy was to maintain Mexico primarily as a colony for the plunder of resources to finance their luxurious European wars and the excesses of their Inquisition. (The Inquisition, of course, being a land-grab war against the last vestiges of the European tribal system - 9,000,000 European women were slaughtered by the ``Patriarchy''.) There weren't enough Spaniards to occupy the entire country so the Indians made a big-time comeback. 15 million Mexicans identify themselves as Indian out of a population of 91 million.

Eventually the world will know that the vast majority of Mexicans are Indians.

Unfortunately, the small Mexican upper-class is still primarily Spanish and the full recognition of Indian Mexico is still to come. Their day will come also.

Regarding Guatemala: it too is primarily Indian - eight million identified Indians out of a population of 11 million. 150,000 Guatemala Indians were killed by the Guatemala Army - primarily in the 70s and 80s. Over 400 beautiful Indian villages were wiped off the face of the earth. They too sometimes have to call themselves Latinos.

Your report that mentioned Latinos did not mention Indian at all. Referring to those peoples as Latinos is like referring to the Irish as British Subjects.

They may be subjected to a European oligarchy, but they are not European Subjects, they are Indigenous Indians and someday everybody will know that.

John Kearney
Consultant, International Indian Treaty Council

Bloody Sunday march

A chairde,

The Bloody Sunday Weekend Committee is presently in the process of organising the annual series of events to mark the 27th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Among these events of course is the march through Derry along the route of the original march. Like last year we would like to extend invitations to a specific number of marching bands to participate.

For various reasons there shall not be an open invite to bands and we would very much appreciate if those interested in playing at the march would contact the office either by letter or phone before Tuesday 26 January,1999. Phone: 01504-268846.

John McKinney
Martin Finucane

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1