Colonization is a painful mark in the history of many of our countries. In Latin America, this led to the decimation of native communities, cultures, and languages. And though hundreds of years have passed, we’re still dealing with the effects of that (i.e. colorism). This week, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called on Spain to formally apologize for all the harm it caused throughout the Americas 500 years ago.
On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter from the archaeological site in Comacalco, Tabasco, which AMLO and his wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, visited to mark the 500th anniversary of a battle between the Spanish and the Chontal Maya, who resisted their colonizers. He revealed at that time that he had sent letters to both Spain’s King Felipe VI and Pope Francis asking that they apologize for this dark time in history.
“I have sent a letter to the Spanish king [Felipe VI] and another letter to the Pope so that the abuses can be acknowledged and an apology can be made to the Indigenous peoples for the violations of what we now call human rights,” AMLO said. “There were massacres… The so-called conquest was done with the sword and the cross. They raised churches on top of temples… The time has come to reconcile but first they should ask forgiveness.”
AMLO himself said he apologized for what marginalized communities have faced in Mexico. The Spanish government, however, refused to say it was sorry. “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, according to the BBC. “Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective.”