As Mexico commemorates 500 years since the Spanish Conquest, Spain missed an important opportunity to strengthen its bond and show a sense of unity or benevolence with the Spanish-speaking country, Mexico. It’s not the first time heads of state have been asked to apologize for past government atrocities. For Spain, a country that doesn’t like to recall its dark history, it was a bridge too far.
List of instances where countries have taken the high road and apologized.
- It’s Never Too Late to Say “I’m Sorry”: Sovereign Apologies Over the Years
- National apologies are a big deal: they acknowledge the past to help move everyone forward. No wonder they’re so hard
- Government Apologies for Historical Injustices
- The Power of Apology and the Process of Historical Reconciliation
When Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sent a letter to the Spanish King, a letter that would require the king to ask for forgiveness (be it a gesture) for his country’s past atrocities during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, also known as the Conquest of Mexico or the Spanish-Aztec War (1519–21). For many in Spain, It was Shocking to think they might have to reconcile with the past.
Mexican President had stated
“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.”
Spain bulked at the idea, stating.
“The Spanish government profoundly regrets the publication of the Mexican president’s letter to his majesty the king on 1 March and completely rejects its content,” a government statement read.
Spain missed it’s Opportunity
The Mexican President’s reasoning for the letter was not one of spite or anger but one of a need for reconciliation of history and a chance to strengthen the bond between Spain and Mexico.
Spain chose its mountain, and thus decided to see things differently than that of the Mexican President. Hastily hitting back at Mexico for being called out for its truths. Member of the conservative right, such as Pablo Casado, commented: “We didn’t colonize, what we did was to make Spain larger.”
For many Spaniards, The barbaric Conquest is portrayed as something positive, even Disney-like, for them, It was a time when Spain maintained a predominance over large swaths of lands and people, The Spanish Empire. Thus all the atrocities are currently washed over and conveniently overlooked. Better to remember it as a grandiose time, than one filled with grotesque atrocities against the indigenous Aztecs, a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico.
Yet, even in the face of countless reports of mass rapes and murders committed by the Colonizers, Spain still has apologists on its side. Some of them are even women. example: Rachel Campos-Duffy went full pro-colonizer mode during a tweet.
Speaking as an 🇺🇸 of Mexican & Spanish descent, no civilization/country is perfect, but ending the Aztec’s barbaric live human sacrifices (20k a yr, including children) & bringing Christianity to the New World is a legacy of which Spain should be proud. https://t.co/20BfOoOcqy— Rachel Campos-Duffy (@RCamposDuffy) August 14, 2021
Mexican President Statement during the 500-year commemoration of the Spanish Conquest
AMLO: Never Again an Invasion, Occupation, or Conquest even in the name of faith, peace, liberty, or even more grotesque in the name of human rights. We should not accept military might or brute forces triumph over justice. #LópezObrador #Mexico #AMLO pic.twitter.com/g8ekn0AfXX— Geopolitics (@GeopoliticsW) August 14, 2021