Mexican Authorities Look Back At History Against Europe

By Rodrigo Cervantes
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 3:13pm
Updated: Saturday, April 6, 2019 - 7:16pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.14 MB)

MEXICO CITY — Last month marked 500 years since the Spaniards arrived to the current territory of Mexico. And, for some Mexican authorities, the anniversary is an opportunity to condemn the violence of the “conquistadores”, and get rid of anything that honors them. But not everyone agrees.

Following the steps of some politicians in the U.S., congresswoman Teresa Ramos wants to remove street names and statues in Mexico City of questionable historical characters; in this case, the European colonists Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés.

Others support similar initiatives, including the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He sent a letter to Felipe VI, king of Spain, and Pope Francis asking them to apologize for offenses brought in the 1500's.

A draft of one of the letters filtered by the press says that "Mexico wishes that the Spanish State admits its historical responsibility for the offenses and offers apologies or political reparations."

The letter later adds that "Mexico does not ask for compensation for the pecuniary damage of the grievances that were caused by Spain, nor does it intend to proceed in a legal manner."

López Obrador defended the letters after receiving criticisms in Mexico and Spain.

Another supporter of similar ideals is senator and former actress Jesusa Rodriguez, who claims that the so-called “Conquista” of Spain forced Catholicism into the country with “blood and fire”.

"Remember that every time you eat carnitas tacos, you are celebrating the fall of the Great Tenochtitlán — current Mexico City," Rodríguez stated, claiming that eating pork tacos is a wrongful celebration of the defeat of the Mexica — or Aztec — people, as the Spaniards brought pigs to the continent.

But critics say this is mislead nationalism and populism that comes from wrongful interpretations of history.

Some historians argue that Mexico is not anymore an indigenous nation invaded by Europeans, but a country built by “mestizaje”, or the mix of several ethnicities and cultures. In addition, the “Conquista” was won by Cortés’ army after he built alliances with other indigenous populations against the Mexica.

Experts in foreign affairs also alert that these kind of actions only bring unnecessary tensions with Spain, a nation that has been an ally to Mexico.

Human rights activists and representatives from indigenous communities have stated that these actions only show that the government prefers to blame the past instead of bringing justice to the indigenous of the present.