Mexico's President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest

Trista - April 2, 2019

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Aztec war dance at Zocalo in Mexico City. David M Byrne.

14. There Are Still Aztecs in Mexico Today

Though the great Aztec Empire fell in 1521, there are still Aztec communities that live in Mexico’s vast rural stretches. They are referred to as the Nahua people, and they retain the original Aztec language, Nahuatl, as well as many Aztec customs. The existence of the language is considered to be endangered.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
A picture of Nahua women dancing with bundles of sacred corn. Mexicolore.

13. 20% of Mexico’s Population Today is Indigenous

In addition to the Nahua, there are 61 indigenous people groups that Mexico’s constitution recognizes today. Many indigenous people assimilated into mainstream Mexican culture and lost much of their traditions and culture, but these people groups have maintained many aspects of their pre-modern culture, including language and some religious beliefs (minus human sacrifice).

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Mexican-American women in New York during the Freedom Ride in 2003. Southern Spaces.

12. As in America, They Are Fighting For Their Rights

The Mexican constitution guarantees certain rights to indigenous people groups, but they constantly have to fight for rights to their own autonomy, territory, and access to resources. Even when these rights are explicitly mentioned in national law, enforcing and protecting them is an uphill battle.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Mexican farmer with crops. Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

11. They Are Subject to Government Maltreatment and Abuse

Farmers have been attacked and harassed by military groups who occupy their territory, in defiance of laws that prevent military encampments in native lands. Native peoples who speak out against government corruption, such as preventing them from electing their own leaders, may be incarcerated, tortured, or even murdered.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
A picture of Mexico City. PROENTI / Temblor.

10. The Legacy of New Spain Looms Large

The subjugated place that indigenous peoples have in Mexican society today is a reflection of the genocidal policies implemented by the Spanish Empire. As when they were slaves with Spanish overlords, their communities are plagued with malnutrition, poverty, and sometimes violent repression by the government.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Pope Francis visiting Mexico City. Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Tico Times.

9. In 2016, Pope Francis Visited Mexico

Pope Francis’s tenure has been marked by advocacy for social justice, especially among non-Catholics and communities that have historically faced persecution from the Vatican. During his five-day visit, he spoke out against drugs, environmental destruction, and forced emigration, all issues that are relevant to Mexico and particularly its indigenous peoples.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Pope Francis held mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in 2016. Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Tico Times.

8. The Pope Attracted Large Crowds of Indigenous Peoples

Chiapas State is one of the least-Catholic areas of Mexico, and it has high populations of indigenous peoples. He held an open-air mass there, which was attended by tens of thousands of people, many of the indigenous. Indigenous women read Bible passages in their own native languages, something that they were previously not allowed to do because the Vatican did not permit their languages.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Pope Francis addressing a crowd of people. EPA / Daily Mail.

7. He Asked Them for Forgiveness

While in Chiapas, he said in a speech, “On many occasions, in a systematic and organized way, your people have been misunderstood and excluded from society. Some have considered your values, culture, and traditions to be inferior. Others, intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands or contaminated them. How sad this is. How worthwhile it would be for each of us to examine our conscience and learn to say, ‘Forgive me!'”

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stands with First Lady Beatriz Gutierrez in front of the Aztec Pyramid. Twitter / Daily Mail.

6. Amlo’s Call for an Apology Is Part of His Social Justice Agenda

Some might argue that asking Spain and the Vatican to apologize for crimes against Mexico’s indigenous people is trite and unnecessary. However, Amlo sees it as necessary to address the genuine grievances that they have and the contemporary challenges that they face. He stated, “There were massacres… The so-called conquest was done with the sword and the cross. They raised churches on top of temples.”

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Cristóbal de Olid led the Spanish soldiers with Tlaxcalan allies in the conquests of Jalisco in 1522. Unknown Aztec scribes / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

5. It May Be a Merely Symbolic Gesture

After all, the Spanish conquest happened 500 years ago, and its empire fell nearly 300 years ago. Politically, the memory of the Spanish conquest does not hamper relations between Mexico and Spain. However, it may not be coincidental that 2019 marks exactly 500 years since Hernan Cortes arrived in 1519.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Felipe VI of Spain. Cristina Cifuentes – Inauguración de FITUR 2018 / Wikimedia.

4. Spain is Rejecting Calls for an Apology

Spain’s present king, Felipe VI, had nothing to do with an event that happened five centuries ago. He is calling for a “constructive perspective,” saying, “The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations.” He believes that both Mexico and Spain can read their histories without anger.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador participated in a traditional indigenous ceremony at the Zocalo, in Mexico City in 2018. AP Photo / Marco Ugarte / CTV News.

3. Amlo Himself Has Apologized to the Indigenous Peoples

Amlo’s political career has long had the betterment of Mexico’s indigenous peoples as one of its highest priorities. Recognizing that the legacy of colonialism continued long after Spanish rule ended, he stated that he intends to apologize to Mexico’s indigenous people, as well.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
Mexican President known as AMLO based on his initials. UNOPS.

2. He Declared 2021 as the Year of Historic Reconciliation

2021 marks exactly 500 years since the fall of the Aztec Empire. However, many skeptics wonder whether there is actually anything to reconcile. After all, history has moved forward, and Mexico, Spain, and the Vatican are all on friendly terms. However, the plight of Native Americans in the United States shows that generational trauma does continue to affect people for generations.

Mexico’s President is Asking for an Apology from King Felipe VI and the Pope 500 Years After Historical Conquest
AMLO at Zocalo in 2012. Eneas De Troya / Wikimedia Commons.

1. The Call is For Personal and Cultural Reconciliation

Maybe Amlo recognizes that the key to ending the social ills that have long plagued Mexico, such as the war on drugs, increasing crime, and poverty lies in creating a culture of peace and reconciliation. His call for an apology may be less a political maneuver than it is an attempt to make reconciliation the new trademark of Mexico and the means of bringing it into a new era.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“The Rise of Mexico’s Andres Lopez Obrador,” documentary. Now This World.

“The Spanish Empire, Silver, & Runaway Inflation: Crash Course World History #25.” Crash Course.”

“Battle of Tenochtitlan.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

“New Spain.” Wikipedia.

“Mexican Inquisition.” Wikipedia.

“Demographics of Mexico.” Wikipedia.

“Mexico indigenous people: Pope Francis asks for forgiveness.” February 16, 2016. BBC News.

“Mexico demands apology from Spain and the Vatican over conquest.” March 26, 2019. BBC News.

“AMLO asks Spain to apologize for the conquest: Spain says definitely not.” March 25, 2019. Mexico News Daily.

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