To this day, the scars of colonialism run deep in Latin America – manifesting in various ways, including colorism, classism, the marginalization of indigenous groups, and the disappearance of societies. But if you ask José Antonio Sánchez – the president of RTVE, Spain’s state-owned public radio and television corporation – the European country’s only fault is trying to spread its culture. “Spain was never a colonizer,” he said in a speech on March 30, according to Latino Rebels. “It sought to evangelize and civilize.”
And while this is enough to give you permanent side-eye, he followed it up with an even more egregious statement. Citing Inga Clendinnen and Alejandro Usigli’s Aztecs: An Interpretation, he compared the Aztec Empire to the Nazis. “To mourn the disappearance of the Aztec Empire is more or less like feeling regret at the defeat of the Nazis in World War II,” he said. “Aztec culture was a bloody totalitarianism based on human sacrifices.”
But Verne pored over the book and didn’t find any comment that remotely resembled the words that Sánchez attributed to Clendinnen and Usigli. So the publication consulted four historians to try to make sense of his comments – and they all called him out on his inability to grasp history. “Inga was an admirer of and profoundly knowledgeable on the culture of the Aztec civilization,” said Enrique Florescano, an expert of Mexican history and Mesoamerican societies. “Her book on the history of the conquest of Mexico is excellent. She couldn’t have said that. It is a completely reaction statement that runs contrary to all historical truth. She made very important contributions for the revaluation of the indigenous culture.”
Other experts said by focusing on sacrifices, an outsider has once again looked at the Aztec civilization on a strictly surface level without providing the necessary context. Miguel Pastrana, a member of the Instituto de Históricas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, tried to put in terms that he could better understand. “Comparing the Aztecs with the Nazis is far-fetched, anachronistic and doesn’t make sense,” Pastrana said. “It is like comparing Felipe II with Stalin: it would be foolish. To make decontextualized comparisons, without academic support, is very inappropriate.”
The four historians also destroyed his other arguments (which you should check out here.) His comments garnered plenty of backlash for Sánchez, but it also painted his employer, RTVE, in a negative light. The corporation released a statement, where it said it felt ashamed of his words and that it completely rejected his message.
h/t Latino Rebels