La Malinche, known also as Malintzin, Malinalli or Doña Marina, was a Nahua woman from the Mexican Gulf Coast, who played a role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, acting as interpreter, advisor, lover and intermediary for Hernán Cortés. She was one of twenty slaves given to Cortés by the natives of Tabasco in 1519. Later she became a mistress to Cortés and gave birth to his first son, Martín, who is considered one of the first Mestizos (people of mixed European and indigenous American ancestry).

The historical figure of Marina has been intermixed with Aztec legends (such as La Llorona, a woman who weeps for lost children). Her reputation has been altered over the years according to changing social and political perspectives, especially after the Mexican Revolution, when she was portrayed in dramas, novels, and paintings as an evil or scheming temptress. In Mexico today, La Malinche remains iconically potent. She is understood in various and often conflicting aspects, as the embodiment of treachery, the quintessential victim, or simply as symbolic mother of the new Mexican people. Her sexual relationship to Cortés gave birth to Martin - arguably a mestizo and criollo, those who eventually resented Spain for not allowing them any ruling position just because they were born in America. The term malinchista refers to a disloyal Mexican.

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