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News > Mexico

AMLO to Spain: 'Recognize the Open Wounds' of Mexican Conquest

  • Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) wants apology for Conquest from Spain, Pope

    Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) wants apology for Conquest from Spain, Pope | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 March 2019

Responding to King Felipe VI, Mexico's Lopez Obrador says he doesn't want to rehash old disputes, but for Spain to 'recognize' the Conquest as an 'invasion'.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) says he’s not looking to rehash old disputes with Spain, but wants the European country to acknowledge the “invasion and acts of authoritarianism” that took place during its conquest of Mexico.

Mexico's AMLO Requests Apology From Spain, Church For Conquest

President AMLO said Tuesday that his request doesn’t seek to dig up old differences with Spain, but for that nation to recognize the “invasion” and “plundering” that defined the colonization era in Mexico.

The Spanish government immediately and "firmly rejected" AMLO’s letter to King Felipe VI of Spain requesting that his government ask Mexico for forgiveness for the massive human rights violations inflicted upon “original peoples” during the Conquest. Pope Francis was also asked to apologize on behalf of the Catholic church.

Lopez Obrador publicly announced his communique to Felipe VI and the Holy See via Facebook Monday to which Spain’s foreign affairs ministry responded: "we deeply regret that (the letter) has been made public.”

Standing in front of the Comalcalco Mayan ruins located in his home state of Tabasco alongside his wife Beatriz Gutierrez, the president said in the March 25 video: "I sent a letter to the King of Spain and another letter to the Pope to account for the grievances and that they apologize to the original peoples for the violations of human rights" during the "so-called Conquest," said AMLO.  

Spain’s rapidly retorted to the video saying, “the government of Spain reiterates its willingness to work together with the government of Mexico and continue to build the appropriate framework to intensify the relations of friendship and cooperation existing between our two countries.”

Mexico's president said Tuesday: "The purpose isn’t to resuscitate disputes, but to expose them, to not to keep them ... underground, because although it is denied, there are open wounds," said the president. “We must recognize that our natural resources were plundered” that occurred during what AMLO said in his Facebook video was the ‘so-called Conquest.’

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Lopez Obrador said Hernan Cortes’ arrival in Mexico 500 years ago an “authoritarian … invasion.”

"It was not only the meeting of two cultures, it was an invasion and acts of authoritarianism, of subjugation were committed. Thousands of people were murdered," said the president.

Historians are saying they agree with the president, but that Mexico and its officials up until the present should also ask for forgiveness as Indigenous communities continue to be “abandoned” and treated as second class citizens.

Jose Alfonso Suarez del Real who is Mexico City’s Secretary of Culture said the president’s move, “is an act of justice and not revenge. To me the president is right. The Spanish monarch, like the pontiff, must understand it that way.”

Speaking with the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, which also published a copy of AMLO’s letter, historian Mercedes de la Garza said it’s not enough for Spain to apologize to Indigenous of Mexico, but all those who have mistreated Indigenous since the Conquest must also.  

“All those who enslaved (Indigenous) and tortured them during the colonization, independence, the Revolution and the 20th century must also ask for forgiveness to the Indigenous peoples of Mexico,” said Garza.

The expert in Mayan and Nahuatl cultures added: “All of them must ask for forgiveness ... because the Indigenous peoples have remained subdued (and) ... left in misery not only the conquerors but those who held power in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Indigenous people are today still poor and abandoned.”

The Mexican head of state says he wants to make 2021 the "year of reconciliation" as it marks the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, and the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence that took place in September 1821.

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