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"This country has appropriated an object that belongs to us, as is often the case in everything that has to do with art and culture," President Lopez Obrador condemned.
On Wednesday, Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) insisted that Austria return to his country set-in-gold quetzal feathers headdress of Aztec emperor Moctezuma (1503-1520), an iconic adornment that is currently kept in the Ethnology Museum in Vienna.
"Austria has appropriated an object that belongs to us, as is often the case in everything that has to do with art and culture," AMLO condemned, stressing that his country has been claiming for decades the headdress.
Although how the headdress came to Austria is still unknown, many historians assume that it was a gift from Moctezuma himself to the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes, who later sent it to Emperor Charles I of the Habsburg House.
In 2020, Mexican historian Beatriz Gutierrez traveled to Austria to request that President Alexander Van der Bellen loan the headdress to be exposed in Mexico's celebrations for its 211th independence anniversary from the Spanish crown.
It’s not just Puerto Rico. Mexico’s Indigenous Purepecha knocked down the statue of a colonial-era Spanish priest.
The statue showed a Purepecha being forced by the priest to haul and work stones. The statue was put up in 1995. Pictures by Reuters. pic.twitter.com/JnCw4riJcz
"In a very arrogant attitude, the Van der Bellen administration denied the loan by alleging that the plumes would not resist the trip," AMLO recalled , stressing that the Austrian officials were not able to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Mexican authorities in this regard.
"As soon as the meeting started, these officials denied the possibility with a nod, as if they felt they owned the object," Gutierrez denounced, noting that Van der Bellen administration came to the meeting without inquiring about the headdress situation.
The Mexican President hoped that the government of Austria change its mind about the headdress at some point given that there is no justification for its attitude.