The anniversary was re-named “Day of Indigenous Resistance” by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2002 to commemorate the beginning of the indigenous struggle against European invasion and colonisation.
On 12 October, the Spanish state celebrates its festival with a great military parade as the central event. This is a date full of
controversy. Today it is called the Day of the National Festival, but for a large part of Franco’s time, it was also called ‘Hispanitat’ Day
and originally the Festival of the Race. And it was and is not only observed in Spain, but also in a few American countries under very
different names, in commemoration of the beginning of the Spanish colonisation of America.
In Argentina for example, it is called the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, and in Chile the Day of the Meeting of the Two Worlds,
whereas in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the 12 October is the Day of the Indigenous Resistance.
Following requests sent by American hispanists at the end of the 19th-century, King Alfonso XIII of Spain established the Day of the
Race in 1918, a name which was maintained until 1958, when it was changed for the Day of ‘Hispanitat’ (or the day of Spanish
influence). The date of the 12 October, officialised by a Borbon monarch, followed unequally by the Republic and exalted by
Francoism (alongside 18 July), was ratified as the Day of the Spanish National Festival by the PSOE Socialist party in 1987.
The rejection of many Catalans
The commemoration of 12 October is criticised both for its direct link to colonialism and the genocide in America, and for the Spanish
national and militaristic nature of the celebration. For over twenty years, on 12 October the groups expressing solidarity with the
indigenous peoples have come out against the national day and political parties such as ‘Esquerra’ generally show their rejection of
the festival with popular gatherings and meals.
For many years too, antifascist groups have demonstrated in Barcelona against the gathering of small Nazi and Francoist groups.
In recent years, certain companies, institutions, municipalities, schools and entities have begun not to have a holiday on 12 October,
‘a day on which there is nothing to celebrate
This year, with the independence consultation called for within a month, the Catalan Civil Society platform
has organised a demonstration to stress the Spanish nature of Catalonia more than ever. Only the ruling Partido Popular, very small in Catalonia, and a few tiny fascist groups have confirmed they will attend, with rumours of busloads of nazis arriving from Madrid.