nombre fue Marina, mejor conocida como Malinche. Una de las veinte
mujeres que le dieran a Cortés a cambio de paz y tranquilidad. Malinche, esa
mujer sobre quien la historia ha callado mucho y sobre quien se ha hablado
mucho, aunque escrito poco. Esa mujer que se convirtiera en la amante de Cortés
y fiel interprete y auxiliar de los españoles.
Cuando Cortés llegó en 1519 a las costas de Tabasco tras la victoria, lograda gracias al espanto que produjeron los caballos, vino la paz, que los indios hicieron, según su costumbre, entregando a las mujeres a los antiguos enemigos. Entre ellas estaba una joven mexica. Bella mujer, Malintzin, Marina o Malinche, se bautizó como Marina, la joven amante de Cortés quien a veces no tenía reposo a fin de complacerla. Las relaciones entre Malinche y Cortés fueron muy estrechas, convirtiéndose la muchacha en intérprete y consejera del conquistador. Una vez acabada la conquista Cortés decidió casarla con uno de sus capitanes, no sin antes reconocer al hijo nacido de su relación, Martín Cortés.
la historia de México Malinche se convertirá en un símbolo del indio seducido
y abandonado, dando lugar al término malinchismo, con el que se señala la
entrega a lo que viene de fuera y la incapacidad para valorar lo propio.
Esa imagen ha sido usada para someter a la mujer como símbolo de la traición, pero también del poder de la mujer.
Esta visión -y exposición- del rol de Maliche o Marina en la historia mesoamericana es injusta y está siendo revisada y ponderada su intervención para evitar la masacre de los pueblos mesoamericanos.
Malinche", Harlot or Heroine?
by Shep Lenchek
Slave, interpreter, secretary, mistress, mother of the first
"Mexican." her very name still stirs up controversy.
Many Mexicans continue to
revile the woman called Doña Marina by the Spaniards and La Malinche by the
Aztecs, labeling her a traitor and harlot for her role as the alter-ego of
Cortes as he conquered Mexico.
They ignore that she
saved thousands of Indian lives by enabling Cortes to negotiate rather than
slaughter. Her ability to communicate also enabled the Spaniards to introduce
Christianity and attempt to end human sacrifice and cannibalism. Herself a
convert, baptized Marina, she was an eloquent advocate for her new faith. As for
the charges against her, they are in my opinion baseless. So let us visit this
remarkable woman and examine the facts.
All historians agree that
she was the daughter of a noble Aztec family. Upon the death of her father, a
chief, her mother remarried and gave birth to a son. Deciding that he rather
than Marina, should rule, she turned her young daughter over to some passing
traders and thereafter pro- claimed her dead. Eventually, the girl wound up as a
slave of the Cacique (the military chief) of Tabasco. By the time Cortes
arrived, she had learned the Mayan dialects used in the Yucatan while still
understanding Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and most Non-Mayan Indians.
did not choose to join Cortes. She was offered to him as a slave by the Cacique
of Tabasco, along with 19 other young women. She had no voice in the matter.
Up till then, Cortes had
relied on a Spanish priest, Jeronimo de Aguilar, as his interpreter. Shipwrecked
off Cozumel, Aguilar spoke the Mayan language as well as Spanish. But when the
expedition left the Mayan-speaking area, Cortes discovered that he could not
communicate with the Indians. That night he was advised that one of the women
given to him in Tabasco spoke "Mexican."
Doña Marina now enters
Mexican history. It was she who served as the interpreter at the first meetings
between Cortes and the representatives of Moctezuma. At that time Marina spoke
no Spanish. She translated what the Aztecs said into the Mayan dialect
understood by de Aguilar and he relayed it to Cortes in Spanish. The process was
then reversed, Spanish to Mayan and Mayan to Nahuatl.
Bernal Diaz, author of
"The Conquest of New Spain" authenticated her pedigree. An eyewitness
to the events, he did not describe her physically, but related that after the
Conquest he attended a reunion of Doña Marina, her mother and the half- brother
who had usurped her rightful place. Diaz marveled at her kindness in forgiving
them for the injustice she had suffered. The author referred to her only as
Marina or Doña Marina. So whence came the name "La Malinche?" Diaz
said that because Marina was always with Cortes, he was called
"Malinche"--which the author translated to mean "Marina's
Captain." Prescott, in the "Conquest of Mexico," (perhaps the
best known book on the subject) confirms that Cortes was always addressed as
"Malinche" which he translated as Captain and defined "La
Malinche" as "the captain's woman."
Both definitions confirm
that the Indians saw Cortes and his spokesperson as a single unit. They
recognized that what they heard were the words of "Malinche," not
"La Malinche. " So much for the charge that she was a traitor,
instigating the destruction of the Aztec Empire.
As for the charge of
"harlotry," it is equally flawed. She was totally loyal to Cortes, a
one-man woman, who loved her master. Cortes reciprocated her feelings. Time
after time he was offered other women but always refused them. Bernal Diaz
frequently commented on the nobility of her character and her concern for her
It is very possible that
without her, Cortes would have failed. He himself, in a letter preserved in the
Spanish archives, said that "After God we owe this conquest of New Spain to
Doña Marina. "
Doña Marina's progress
from interpreter to secretary to mistress, as well as her quick mastery of
Spanish, are remarkable--and all this amidst the turmoil of constant warfare,
times when a woman less courageous and committed might well have fled.
The ability of Marina to
help Cortes to communicate with the Indians shaped the entire campaign. From the
very first meeting between Cortes and the emissaries of Moctezuma, an effort was
made to establish friendly relations with the Aztec Emperor.
Later, during Cortes's
encounter with the Caciques of Cempola, that same talent opened the door to the
Conquest. Here, Cortes met the "Fat Cacique" and by arresting five tax
collectors sent by the Aztecs, made his first Indian allies: Cempoalans were the
first of the Indian warriors to join him.
Yet even then, he tried
to persuade Moctezuma to invite him to Tenochtitlan, freeing the captives to
carry a message to the Emperor that he had come in peace.
Without Marina, attempts
to negotiate with the Aztecs would have been impossible.
These efforts did much to
keep Moctezuma undecided about how to deal with the invaders. This hesitancy
played a large part in the outcome of the Conquest.
Perhaps the most
important negotiations Marina made possible were those with the Tlascalans.
After an initial armed clash, an alliance was forged that brought thousands of
warriors to fight alongside the Spaniards.
As Cortes moved toward
the Aztec capital, a pattern evolved.
First conflict, then
meetings in which Doña Marina played a key role in avoiding more bloodshed.
Hence, the picture of Marina that emerges is that of an intelligent, religious,
Her contribution to the
success of the Conquest is immense, but she cannot be held responsible for it
happening. To a very large degree, the Conquest came because of the brutality of
the Aztecs: a rebellion by their oppressed neighbors, who would have rallied to
anyone who promised them relief from the Aztecs' constant demands for tribute
and sacrificial victims.
But from another
standpoint, the fate of the Aztec Empire was sealed in the very first meetings
of the emissaries of Moctezuma with Cortes, when they gave him gifts of gold and
silver that Sernal Diaz valued at over 20,000 pesos de oro. Prescott, writing in
1947, valued each peso de oro at $11.67 U.S. Dollars. The Spanish appetite for
gold was whetted, making the Conquest inevitable. But had Cortes failed, the
next expedition, perhaps without an interpreter, would certainly have shed more
Then too, had Cortes met
with no success, the Smallpox epidemic that raged in the Aztec Capital might
well have spread throughout the entire empire. By destroying the city, he
perhaps saved the country. Bernal Diaz wrote: "When we entered the city
every house was full of corpses. The dry land and stockades were piled high with
the dead. We also found Mexicans lying in their own excrement, too sick to
After the Conquest,
Cortes, with a wife in Spain, arranged to have Marina married to a Castilian
knight, Don Juan Xamarillo.
Soon thereafter she
disappeared from history.
But she had borne Cortes
a son, Don Mahin Cortes. While many other Indian women were impregnated by
Spaniards, we have no record of their fate. Hence, if modern-day Mexicans are a
blend of Spanish and Indian blood, Doña Marina's son was the first
"Mexican" whose career we can follow. He rose to high government
position and was a "Comendador" of the Order of St. Jago. In 1548,
accused of conspiring against the Viceroy, he was tortured and executed.
In more recent times, the
term "Malinchista" has been used by some to describe those who dislike
Mexicans. But Doña Marina deserves better. A fearless, loyal and determined
woman, she was a heroine who helped save Mexico from its brutal, blood-thirsty
rulers--and in doing so she played a major role in fashioning what is today one
of the most dynamic societies in all of Latin America.
Fuente: El ojo del lago. December 1997 Guadalajara-Lakeside Volume 14, Number 4
Sitios web sobre Malinche
Última modificación: Sábado, 11 de Junio de 2005