Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent a letter Monday to King Felipe VI of Spain and Pope Francis requesting a formal apology for the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish Catholic conquistadors half-a-millennium ago.
During Lopez Obrador’s morning news conference, he presented the letter that he had sent to the King of Spain and the Vatican on the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, which lasted 1519-1521. Reuters reports that Lopez Obrador would like a group of historical experts to reexamine the events of the conquest and promote reconciliation between the nations.
“There were killings, impositions,” Lopez Obrador said in a video posted on Twitter. “The so-called conquest was carried out with the sword and the cross. They raised churches on top of temples.” (RELATED: Here’s The Insane Footage Of A Volcano Erupting In Mexico)
“It is time to say we will reconcile but first let us apologize,” he continued. “I am going to, as well, because after the colonization there was much repression of the original peoples.”
Estamos en Comalcalco, vamos a Centla a conmemorar 500 años de la batalla de los españoles contra la resistencia de los mayas-chontales. pic.twitter.com/glYO0eAMtX
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) March 25, 2019
The president said that he would be willing to apologize for injustices committed against Chinese immigrants in Mexico during the rule of dictator Porfirio Diaz in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Politicians in Spain have retaliated against the proposition that Spain owes Mexico an apology, saying the letter is an “intolerable offense to the Spanish people.”
The Spanish government issued a rebuttal to Lopez Obrador’s request, saying, “The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to what is today Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations.”
It continued, “Our sibling peoples have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a common inheritance and an extraordinary projection.”
The rebuttal reportedly stressed that despite Spain’s refusal to apologize for 500-year-old events, the country is eager to cooperate with Mexico to strengthen international relations. (OPINION: Mexico’s New President Is A 100-Day Failure)
When the Mexican president was questioned as to whether he will ask for apologies from the United States or France, two countries that have also invaded and occupied Mexico in the past, he responded, “In time.”
France invaded Mexico in the 1860s, installing Ferdinand Maximilian as “Emperor of Mexico” for three years, while the United States has had several contentious military encounters with Mexico throughout its history, the most notable being the Mexican-American War in the late 1840s.
The Vatican has not yet issued a response to the Mexican president, though there is a precedent for the Vatican apologizing to nations for historical wrongdoings. The Vatican had apologized to Bolivia in 2015 for crimes committed during the colonization of the region.