López Obrador’s apology request sparks outrage in Spain

Mexico's president requested for an apology for human rights abuses committed during the conquest

López Obrador’s apology request sparks outrage in Spain
Pablo Casado, the head of Spain’s main center-right opposition party, said López Obrador’s statement was an “affront to Spain and its history” - Photo: Henry Romero, Ballesteros/EFE, Reuters
English 26/03/2019 14:26 Reuters Mexico City Actualizada 15:23
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Mexico’s president said on Tuesday he wanted no conflict with Madrid over his request for an apology for human rights abuses committed during Spain’s conquest of Mexico, and hinted he could seek similar gestures from other countries.

Spanish conquistadors arrived in the territory of Mexico in 1521 and ruled it as a colony until 1821, sweeping away the Aztec empire.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Monday he had written to Spain’s King Felipe and Pope Francis “so that they ask forgiveness of indigenous peoples for violations” including massacres.

Alessandro Gisotti, the internal spokesman of the Holy See, said in an interview with EFE that the Catholic church had already apologized for human rights abuses committed during the conquest. In July 2015, during a trip to Bolivia, Pope Francis offered his humblest apologies for abuses and crimes committed by the church against indigenous people during the conquest of the American continent.

During his regular news morning conference, López Obrador brought up the letter he had sent the king of Spain seeking an apology for crimes against indigenous people when Spain claimed Mexico five centuries ago.

To mark the 500th anniversary of the 1519-21 conquest, López Obrador said he wanted a group of experts to review the events of that period to promote reconciliation and strengthen bonds between the two countries.

“We won’t get into any confrontation with the government of Spain or any government,” said López Obrador, whose December inauguration was attended by Spanish King Felipe VI.

The relationship with Spain was not at risk, said López Obrador, who during the conference stressed that he had not made the letter public.

However, politicians in Spain responded in anger, and the socialist government said in a statement it “firmly rejected” the contents of the letter, adding that the actions of Spaniards 500 years ago cannot be judged by “contemporary considerations.”

Spain is one of Mexico’s biggest sources of foreign direct investment.

Pablo Casado, the head of Spain’s main center-right opposition party, said López Obrador’s statement was an “affront to Spain and its history”.

Asked whether he would seek apologies from France or the United States for their historic interventions in Mexico, López Obrador interrupted the question and said: “In time.”

With the support of Mexican conservatives, France invaded Mexico in the 1860s and installed Maximilian, a member of the European Habsburg family, as emperor for three years.

The United States has had several clashes with its southern neighbor, most notably during a 1846-1848 conflict which resulted in the occupation of Mexico City by U.S. forces and the loss of Mexico’s northernmost territories to the United States.

López Obrador, a veteran leftist, said that as head of state he would ask forgiveness for historic abuses and murders committed against indigenous Mexican peoples, including the Yaqui in the north of the country and the Maya in the south.

“Power is humility,” he said.

The president said he would also apologize for abuses committed against Chinese immigrants during the rule of dictator Porfirio Díaz, and in the conflict known as the Mexican Revolution that dominated the country after his ouster in 1911.
 

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