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article imageSpain rejects Mexico's demand to apologize for conquest

By Karen Graham     Mar 26, 2019 in Politics
Comalcalco - A diplomatic row has broken out between Mexico and Spain after the Mexican president wrote to King Felipe VI demanding he apologize for crimes committed against Mexico’s indigenous people during the conquest 500 years ago.
Besides the letter, published on March 1, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also published a video on YouTube where he is shown standing in front of the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco, in southern Mexico.
In the video, Lopez Obrador also advises that he has sent a letter to King Felipe VI of Spain and Pope Francis outlining the “invasion” and the “many misdeeds that were committed," according to the Washington Post.
“There were killings, impositions,” the president said in the video. "The so-called conquest was carried out with the sword and the cross.” Lopez Obrador specifically asks for an apology to “the original peoples for the violations of what are now known to be human rights.”
Codex Azcatitlan depicting the Spanish-Tlaxcalan army  with Cortés and La Malinche  along with an A...
Codex Azcatitlan depicting the Spanish-Tlaxcalan army, with Cortés and La Malinche, along with an African slave in front the meeting with Moctezuma.
Codex azcatitlan
The Mexican president also said he intends to ask the country's indigenous people for forgiveness for the repression and extinction they suffered after the conquest- citing the Yaquis of Sonora and the Mayas of the Yucatán peninsula in particular.
A time for reconciliation
Lopez Obrador's move comes just two months after the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, made an official visit to Mexico. Needless to say, Spain's government is not pleased with the letter or video and responded angrily.
“The Spanish government profoundly regrets the publication of the Mexican president’s letter to his majesty the king on 1 March and completely reject its content,” a government statement read, according to The Guardian.
“The arrival of the Spanish on Mexican soil 500 years ago cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations. Our closely related peoples have always known how to view our shared history without anger and from a shared perspective, as free peoples with a common heritage and an extraordinary future.”
16th century Aztec drawing of smallpox victims
16th century Aztec drawing of smallpox victims
Scanned from (2009) Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present and Future, Oxford University Press
Mexico News Daily notes that 2021 will be the Year of Historic Reconciliation when Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence and 500 years since the taking of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.
As of right now, Spain will probably not be part of the 2021 celebration, and sad to say, but the demand for an apology has created some dissension along political lines. Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative People’s party said, “It’s scandalous ignorance and a real affront to Spain and its history.”
Albert Rivera, the leader of the centre-right Citizens party, said the letter “was an intolerable offense to the Spanish people”, while Ione Belarra, from the leftwing Podemos party, said López Obrador “has every right to ask the king to apologize for the abuses of la Conquista”.
López Obrador took office on 1 December and has been bent on making good his promise to be a champion for Mexico's poor and indigenous peoples. However, unlike the millions of mixed-race Mexicans, Lopez Obrador is close to being entirely of Spanish descent. His grandparents emigrated from Asturias and Cantabria in northern Spain.
More about tex mex, Spanish conquest, Spain, Catholic Church, Reconciliation
 
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