The person known as Malintzin was a Nahua woman, who acted as a translator and an intermediary between the Aztecs and the Spanish. A divisive figure in Old America’s historiography, she inspired opposing assessments of her actions.
A critical viewpoint portrays her as a traitor to her people, who collaborated with Spanish conquistadors. The reason for this viewpoint lies in her origin – she was born an Indigenous woman, yet proceeded to work with foreign invaders, thus contributing to the massacres of local Aztecs. The opposing interpretation revolves around her position as a victim of circumstances.
It can be argued that being limited in opportunities, she had no choice but to collaborate with the Spanish while being unjustifiably condemned by Mexican historians. It should be noted that both interpretations agree that Malintzin played an important role in the Spanish successes.
In my opinion, Malintzin is more a victim than a traitor. The reason why I do not agree with the conception of her betrayal lies in the absence of any real nation that Malintzin could betray.
Rogers raises a noteworthy question – “how could Malintzin be a traitor to the Mexican nation before it even existed”, which implicates Mexican condemnation of her as baseless. Furthermore, the undisputed fact is that Malintzin was a slave. In fact, this is how she first came into contact with Europeans – she was sold to them by the Indigenous slave traders.
Subsequently, it is reasonable to suggest that Malintzin harbored resentment toward some of the Indigenous peoples. In this regard, working with the Spanish conquistadors was a better option for her when compared with her life as an Indigenous slave.