Should we say sorry for conquistadors?
Spain probably does owe Mexicans an apology for the brutal conquest of the Americas begun 500 years ago, said El País, but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador could hardly have picked a worse time to demand one. Looking ahead to the 500th anniversary of the 1521 Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, AMLO wrote to King Felipe VI with the request, only to be rebuffed. Spain is in the middle of an election campaign, so the parties outdid one another in displays of patriotic indignation. The ruling Socialists firmly rejected the idea, with Foreign Minister Josep Borrell calling it “weird,” while the opposition center-right People’s Party went full jingoist, hailing the conquest of the Americas as the “most brilliant moment in the history of humanity.” In truth, that conquest was often brutal and came at “enormous human cost,” particularly in the destruction of indigenous peoples. While Spain is right to point out that its current incarnation is not the same as the invading empire, the “humiliation and subjugation of the original peoples of Mexico” did bring great suffering that has not yet been addressed. Before the anniversary in 2021, our two nations should discuss what is owed to the indigenous population. The goal must be “reconciliation for all.”