Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Reconquest, Then and Now

By Harry Willson

SEPTEMBER 27, 1999:  The professor of the History of Spain, at the University of Madrid forty-some years ago, made it very clear: "In order to understand the history and the people of Spain, one must understand La Reconquista." Roll the erre, and do not be concerned about the possibility that you could exaggerate that trill, because you can't.

In 711 Rodrigo, king of the Visigoths in Spain, invited the Moors across the Strait of Gibraltar to help in some sort of succession squabble. They came, and they kept coming. They took the entire peninsula and kept going, beyond the Pyrenees. In 732 they were stopped in France at Tours, by Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne.

Meanwhile in 718, a Visigoth chief, Pelayo, eluded the Moors in the mountains of Asturias in northern Spain and defeated them soundly at Covadonga with help from the Virgin Mary, according to the local legends. He became the first Christian king of the Reconquest. From then on, for the next 774 years, the Christian Spaniards engaged in constant struggle to push the Moors back off the peninsula. Time-lapse maps show the gradual but unrelenting progress. It took a long time to happen, but it never let up. La Reconquista.

The Reconquest culminated in 1492 at the Fall of Granada. Visitors to Spain should include Covadonga in Asturias and Granada in Andalucia in their itinerary, in order to understand the country most fully. The Reconquest set the tone and provided the energy to make Spain the world empire it became. In 1492, the Jews were expelled, setting the stage for the government-imposed monolithic unity which Spain has tried to embody since. And in 1492, the Spanish began the conquest of a hemisphere they hadn't known existed before Columbus' voyages. The Reconquest became, then, simply The Conquest, led by conquistadores. No one can understand Spain, or the Spanish empire, without considering the Reconquest.

Some things are happening in our part of the world which make a fresh kind of sense when seen in the light of La Reconquista.

From 1607 at Jamestown, until 1893 at Wounded Knee, the British/American empire conquered the central part of North America, taking it away from the native occupants. Those occupants, who probably came from Siberia, and not India, were exterminated for the most part. The continent was not "empty," not uninhabited, but contained many millions in population. Wars and epidemics wiped out most of them.

A few survivors were confined to tiny poverty pockets of land the conquerors didn't want, called "reservations." Villages, granaries, artifacts, languages, written records and whole tribes were systematically destroyed: Mohican, Susquehannock, Pecos, to name only a few.

But those survivors have discovered a method of reconquest. Just as the European conquerors worked on innate weaknesses of the natives, including a lack of resistance to smallpox and measles and alcohol, likewise the reconquest is based on exploitation of the white man's weakness. The theft of an entire continent and all its resources, such as trees, wild animals, minerals and fish, built up a sense that something-for-nothing can be a way of life. It turned into an addiction for gambling. And now the aboriginal natives are using that addiction of the white folks to reconquer their territory.

As of now they are taking in large sums of money. A tribe in Connecticut consisting of 50 persons, the Pequot, takes in billions every year from the metropolitan New York population. Watch their next move. They are beginning to convert that cash into land purchases. Locally, Sandia Pueblo has already bought the Coronado Airport north of Albuquerque. Pojoaque Pueblo has bought the Santa Fe Downs race track, and shut it down. There will be court battles as attempts are made to remove such property from the tax base. A casino at 12th Street and Menaul Boulevard in Albuquerque is not at all unlikely, since money talks more now than it ever has.

The day will come when the currency required at the door of the Casino Palaces will be, not U.S. funds, but deeds. When the value of U.S. currency crashes, as it will when this bubble bursts, those doing the reconquering will demand deeds to lots, houses, farms, ranches, forests.

Another Reconquest is under way. There is one small problem. I understand that the natives have themselves had a tradition which accepts and even glorifies gambling. They will have to find a way to protect their own people from this addiction. Otherwise this reconquista may not work.

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