Building peace in the minds of men and women

Caribbean encounter

The arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards in 1492 marked the start of an intermingling of cultures in the Caribbean which continued amid the tragic events of colonialism and the slave trade. Out of this process involving Europeans, Indians, and above all black African peoples came a unique historical amalgam, rich in diversity yet united by certain underlying patterns of living and thinking.

The cultural fusion of the Caribbean, one of the most original and fruitful episodes in history is the theme of this issue of the Unesco Courier. For reasons of space the present number deals only with the Caribbean archipelago, and not those parts of the American continent which form part of the history and geography of the Caribbean. Cover shows Umbral (1949-1950), a canvas by the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam.

The Caribbean has played a unique and privileged role in the history of the American continent. Here in the Caribbean was the reality of the new horizons, new forms of vegetation and new lands first described by Christopher Columbus in his log-book. Indeed, it was through that log-book and the letters Columbus wrote to the Catholic Monarchs narrating his successive voyages that the idea of America was instilled in people's minds, giving them, for the first time, a complete picture of the world in which they lived. They learnt that their planet was round and they could set about exploring it in full knowledge of where they were going. For the first time in history they knew in what world they were living.

Read this issue. Download the PDF.

Read the online article: Caliban's revenge, by Roberto Fernández Retamar

December 1981

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