Spain refuses to apologize to Mexico’s indigenous people for colonial abuses
Mexico's new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, center, participates in a traditional indigenous ceremony at the Zocalo, in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2018. | Marco Ugarte / AP

Spain refused to apologize to Mexico today for the abuses and human rights violations committed during its colonization of the country in the 16th century.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) wrote to Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis earlier this week demanding an apology for the atrocities committed by Spain during the conquest and its aftermath.

“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,” AMLO said.

“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.

“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first,” AMLO said in a video posted on social media.

The Spanish conquest of Mexico began in 1519 when a small army led by Hernán Cortés landed in the modern-day state of Veracruz.

Within two years, the Spaniards had wiped out the once powerful Aztec empire.

Cortés built alliances with tributaries and city-states of the Aztec empire along with its political rivals, particularly the Tlaxcalteca and Texcocanos to give the Spaniards superiority.

Large numbers of indigenous people were massacred with many more dying as a result of diseases — including smallpox — which were brought to Mexico from Spain.

AMLO was speaking during a visit to the Mayan pyramids in the state of Tabasco in southern Mexico. He later traveled to Centla, the site of the first battle between Cortés’s army and the indigenous people on March 14, 1519.

“Thousands of people were murdered during this period,” AMLO said. “One culture and civilization imposed itself on another.

“There are still open wounds. It’s better to recognize that abuses were committed and mistakes were made.”

He explained he would also offer an apology to Mexico’s indigenous “because the repression of indigenous peoples continued after the colonial period.”

However, Madrid moved quickly to “firmly reject” AMLO’s request.

“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” the 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.”

Morning Star


Steve Sweeney
Steve Sweeney

Steve Sweeney writes for Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist. Steve Sweeney escribe para Morning Star, el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña. También es miembro del Comité Nacional de la Asamblea Popular, patrocinador de la campaña Paz en Kurdistán y un orgulloso sindicalista.