A man reads a text engraved on the Monument to the Discovery of America in Plaza Colon (Columbus Square) in Madrid, Spain, March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera
MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish politicians reacted with anger on Tuesday to a request by Mexico’s president for an apology for the wrongs committed by conquerors to indigenous peoples 500 years ago, calling it an affront to Spanish history.
Spanish conquistadors arrived in the territory of Mexico in 1521 and ruled it as a colony until 1821, sweeping away the Aztec empire.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he had written to Spain’s King Felipe and Pope Francis “so that they ask forgiveness of indigenous peoples for violations” including massacres.
“Lopez Obrador’s letter is an intolerable offense to the Spanish people,” said Alberto Rivera, head of the center-right Ciudadanos party, in a tweet.
The Socialist government said in a statement it “firmly rejected” the contents of the letter, adding that the actions of Spaniards 500 years ago cannot be judged by “contemporary considerations”.
Spain is one of Mexico’s biggest sources of foreign direct investment.
Pablo Casado, the head of Spain’s main center-right opposition party, said Lopez Obrador’s statement was an “affront to Spain and its history”.
Reporting by Axel Bugge; Editing by Alison Williams