Mexico demands apology from Spain, Vatican over injustices to indigenous people

Spain declines to make amends, but Pope asked forgiveness years ago

Hernando Cortes (1485-1547) Spanish conquistador, led an expedition to Mexico, landing in 1519. Photo: Getty Images
Hernando Cortes (1485-1547) Spanish conquistador, led an expedition to Mexico, landing in 1519. Photo: Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has demanded Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis apologize for historical abuses of colonialism and the conquest of Mexico.

In a video filmed at the ruins of the Mayan city of Comalcalco, AMLO called on Spain and the Vatican to recognize the rights violations committed during the conquest of Mexico.

The conquest began 500 years ago and was followed by Mexico’s colonial period.

“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” said Lopez Obrador, in the video, which he posted to his social media accounts.

“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said. “The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”

Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco.

He planned to later visit the city of Centla, scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.

Bringing horses, swords, guns and smallpox – all unknown in the New World at the time – Cortes led an army of fewer than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire. It was the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.

Spain has so far rejected the invitation to apologize for that chapter in history.

“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” the Spanish government said in a statement. “Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective.”

There was no immediate comment from the Vatican but three years ago, on a visit to Mexico, Pope Francis asked indigenous people for forgiveness over the way they had been excluded from society.

Sources: Guardian, BBC

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