Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has written to Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis urging them to apologize for the “abuses” of colonialism and the conquest.
In a video filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco, in southern Mexico, the anti-establishment leftist called on Spain and the Vatican to recognize the rights violations committed during the conquest of Mexico, which began 500 years ago, and the colonial period that followed.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, which he posted to his social media accounts.
“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.”
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state.
He planned to later visit the city of Centla, scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox – all unknown in the New World at the time – Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.