The ruling Morena party has hit back at a former Spanish prime minister after he mocked President López Obrador for seeking an apology from the the king of Spain and Pope Francis for the conquest of Mexico.
Speaking at this week’s national convention of the People’s Party (PP), a conservative political party in Spain, José María Aznar ridiculed López Obrador for requesting the apology in 2019, pointing out that if the conquest hadn’t occurred the Mexican president would never have been born.
“What’s your name? Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Andrés from the Aztecs? Manuel from the Mayans? López! – is it a mix of Aztecs and Mayans? And Obrador – from [the Spanish city of] Santander,” gibed the former prime minister, who held office for the PP between 1996 and 2004.
“Man, if these things hadn’t happened you wouldn’t be here,” Aznar quipped. “Nor could you be called what you’re called, you couldn’t have been baptized, the evangelization of America couldn’t have occurred.”
Aznar’s belief that there is no need for Spain to apologize for events that occurred 500 years ago is shared by other conservative political figures in Spain, such as PP president Pablo Casado and the president of the Community of Madrid, who this week criticized Pope Francis for acknowledging that “very painful” errors were committed in the past in Mexico.
Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who governs the Spanish capital for the PP, described the promotion and protection of indigenous rights as “the new communism.”
The government of Spain, led by Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party since 2018, “vigorously” rejected the need for an apology when López Obrador revealed in March 2019 that he had sought one from the Spanish king and the pope.
In response to Aznar’s remarks, Morena released a statement portraying the former prime minister as a warmongering denialist. (His government was a strong supporter of the Iraq War.)
Morena “categorically condemns” Aznar’s declarations, the party said, noting they were made at an event organized by the PP, a “political force linked to Francoism.”
The party founded by López Obrador said the former prime minister had openly offended “the history of our country and the dignity and memory of the indigenous people of Mexico and the world.”
“It doesn’t surprise us that an instigator of war denies the indigenous genocide in our continent and defends the Catholic evangelization, taking into account abuses carried out by members of the Spanish crown,” it added.
“… Our movement forcefully rejects his persistent interference in the internal affairs of Mexico, both by him and his representative Santiago Abascal, president of VOX, a far-right party whose presence in our country was regrettable and shameful,” the statement said.
“Mr. Aznar, denying history doesn’t erase it. The ancient cultures of our people that your political ancestors tried to annihilate are still alive and are uplifted by the transformation of Mexico,” Morena concluded.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, a close ally of López Obrador and a leading contender to succeed him as president, also took aim at the former prime minister.
“Here, Mr. Aznar, is the difference between a humanist leader with vision and a racist,” she wrote on Twitter above a link to a video of López Obrador offering an apology for past injustices to the Yaqui people of Sonora.
“The Spanish state is losing a historic opportunity by not recognizing the atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples,” Sheinbaum said, referring to the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán.
If Spain were to offer an apology, she added, progress would be made toward “a world without discrimination.”
With reports from El País