Spain has refused Mexico’s request for an apology for the conquest, but that didn’t stop Catalonia from doing so.
The government of the autonomous Spanish region yesterday offered an apology to the indigenous peoples of Mexico for the killings and other offenses committed by Spaniards during the 16th-century conquest of the territory now known as Mexico.
Issued by the Catalan minister of foreign action during a visit to the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI), the apology came almost three months after President López Obrador revealed that he had written both the king of Spain and Pope Francis asking that they apologize for the indignities suffered by native peoples during the conquest.
Alfred Bosch said the Catalan government will work hand in hand with Mexico and its indigenous peoples to recover “all the dignity that never should have been lost.”
“What is clear is that the conquest and colonization introduced discrimination and marginalization” to Mexico, he said.
Bosch told reporters that during a meeting with INPI officials, the Catalan government committed to collaborating with Mexico to improve the economic and social development of indigenous peoples and to help preserve their linguistic and cultural traditions.
The Catalan minister also said that he offered to act as an intermediary between the governments of Mexico and Spain to help them reach a common position on the subject of the conquest.
Bosch has recently taken a close interest in the relations between the two countries and in April offered an apology to Mexico’s indigenous peoples on behalf of the Catalan government while speaking in the Catalonia parliament.
INPI international relations director Saúl Vicente Vázquez said he was honored to have received the apology from the Spanish autonomous community.
He also said the indigenous peoples of Mexico supported Catalonia’s efforts to win independence from Spain.
“People have every right to maintain their identity, their culture . . . and in this conversation today we’ve found that in current times it is highly important to reflect on these issues, the reality of the people of Catalonia, to whom we send a fraternal greeting,” Vázquez said.
Hugo Vilar Ortíz, an INPI indigenous rights official, said indigenous peoples are now waiting for an apology from the Spanish government.
“It would be very meaningful if the Kingdom of Spain, the Spanish state, offered an apology to the [indigenous] peoples. To this day we feel the effects [of the conquest] because it wasn’t just a physical annihilation, it also had effects on culture and identity,” he said.
But there appears to be no likelihood of that occurring any time soon.
In March, the government of Spain said it “vigorously” rejected López Obrador’s request for an apology, asserting that “the arrival 500 years ago of the Spaniards on territory that is now Mexican cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations.”
Speaking to reporters in Belgium yesterday, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell made light of Bosch’s apology and charged that the Mexican government hadn’t afforded “the slightest importance” to his visit.
He also dismissed any possibility that the Catalan minister could act as a mediator between Mexico and Spain, declaring “Mr. Bosch has no sense of the ridiculous, that’s clear.”