Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador gave a speech at an event in Quintana Roo marking the 500th anniversary of Spanish conquest and 200 years of Mexican independence from Spain. In the speech, he apologized to the indigenous Mayan people for the historic abuse they have undergone during the centuries since the Spanish conquest.
“We offer the most sincere apologies to the Mayan people for the terrible abuses committed by individuals and national and foreign authorities in the conquest, during three centuries of colonial domination and two centuries of an independent Mexico,” López Obrador said, as reported BBC News.
López Obrador focused specifically on the period between 1847 and 1901, when the so-called Caste War revolt took place, claiming the lives of over 250,000 Mayans.
According to Al Jazeera, Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s secretary of the interior added, “We apologise to the Maya people of Mexico…for the wrongs committed against them throughout history and for the discrimination that they are still victims of today. Today, we ask forgiveness in the name of the Mexican government for the injustices committed against you throughout our history and for the discrimination which even now you are victims of.”
Guatemalan leader Alejandro Giammattei was also present at the ceremony. Guatemala is a country home to indigenous tribes that have similarly suffered throughout history.
“We have managed as a region to overcome aspects such as slavery, internal wars, and open confrontations between peoples,” Giammattei said. “However, by revisiting our history, we can analyse the present and realise that we are still facing the loss of human lives but now at the hands of organised crime, because of malnutrition, and the tireless search for the dream and opportunities that so many people pursue.”
The apology is a recognition of the suffering and slaughter of the Mayan people and will be an important milestone to Mayan leaders and those who are working on reconciliation efforts within communities.