President López Obrador has come under fire from opposition lawmakers and others for his request to the king of Spain and Pope Francis that they apologize for the conquest of Mexico.
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Senator and former interior secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong appeared to question the president’s sanity in light of López Obrador’s revelation that he sent the two men a letter “to ask that they make an account of the injustices and apologize to the indigenous peoples for the violations” committed “with the cross and the sword” during the conquest.
“President Andrés Manuel López Obrador should be subjected to constant medical evaluation,” Osorio said. “That apology that he requested from the king of Spain and the Vatican about the conquest, that’s out of order.”
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) Senator Miguel Ángel Mancera said that López Obrador’s apology request only served to drive Mexico and Spain apart and damage “the friendly relationship” that the two countries enjoy today.
The former Mexico City mayor also charged that by making his request public, the president had sought and succeeded in diverting attention from more pressing issues.
“Now we’re all talking about this issue,” Mancera said.
National Action Party (PAN) Senator Mauricio Kuri also contended that López Obrador’s intention was to distract people from focusing on issues of real importance such as security and corruption at Pemex.
“. . . Why is he diverting attention to other issues instead of looking at what’s happening in his government,” he said.
Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, leader of the PAN in the lower house of Congress, said that López Obrador had only succeeded in generating “national and international animosity,” while PRI lawmaker Héctor Yunes Landa suggested that the president should instead ask the CNTE teachers’ union to apologize for blocking access to the Chamber of Deputies and shutting down all congressional activity.
As expected, lawmakers from the ruling Morena party defended López Obrador’s request for an apology from the Spanish crown and the Catholic church for the conquest, which began with the arrival in Mexico of conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1519.
“The claim is correct,” said Morena Senate leader Ricardo Monreal Ávila. “It’s time for reconciliation and that comes from an act of acceptance from those who invaded and looted the country.”
On Monday, the Spanish government said in a brief statement that it regretted that Mexico’s president had made public the letter to Felipe VI, whose contents “we vigorously reject,” while a spokesman for the Vatican said that the pope “has already spoken with clarity about this issue.”
During a visit to Bolivia in 2015, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the “many and grave sins against the indigenous peoples of America.”
The issue came up today in Argentina where celebrated Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa suggested, before an audience that included the king of Spain, that López Obrador’s letter was misdirected.
The 2010 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature said Mexico’s president should have sent the letter to himself. He should have asked “why Mexico, five centuries after its incorporation into the western world and 200 years after independence, still has so many millions of poor, ignorant and exploited Indians.”
The apology request has also generated activity among creators of memes on social media. In one, the conqueror Cortés is described as the first member of the “mafia of power,” the president’s favorite term for describing corrupt politicians.
Another bore the announcement that public consultations would be held to judge Christopher Columbus, Cortés and “La Malinche,” the latter’s lady friend and widely considered as a traitor to the Aztecs.