The Mexican President has demanded an apology from King Felipe VI for the Spanish conquest of his country over 500 years ago. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has written to Felipe asking him to say sorry for the actions of the Spanish during the conquest and colonisation of the country from the 16th century onwards. Mexico’s president has also written to the Pope asking for an apology.
Mr Lopez Obrador revealed he had sent the letters during a speech on March 25th 2019 during a visit to mark the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Centla. He said he had written to King Felipe and Pope Francis asking them apologise for ‘’what would now be called human rights abuses’’ and added ‘’there were massacres and oppression’’. He also spoke of how Catholic churches had been built on the sites of indigenous temples.
Madrid quickly rejected the call. In a statement, the government said the arrival of Spanish troops 500 years ago ‘’cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations’’. It went on ‘’our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective’’.
King Felipe VI, who is currently in Argentina for the first Spanish State Visit to that country in sixteen years, has made no public comment. It’s understood the letters were sent at the beginning of March but only became public following Mr Lopez Obrador’s speech.
King Felipe has previously enjoyed good relations with Mexico during his almost five years as monarch. In 2015, his first State Visit to South America as king was to Mexico where he was welcomed by the previous president, Enrique Pena Nieto. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took up the office in December 2018.
Spanish conquistadores arrived in Mexico 500 years ago under the command of Hernando Cortes. They quickly took over much of the country which became an integral part of the Spanish Empire that would, at one point, cover most of South America as well as territories in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe. It declined rapidly in the 19th century.