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Mexican president demands apology from Spanish King, Pope Francis for 16th century conquests

Mexican president demands apology from Spanish King, Pope Francis for 16th century conquests
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has formally requested an apology from both Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis for the Spanish conquest some 500 years ago.

The letter cited massacres that took place during the Spanish conquests of the indigenous peoples of Mexico throughout the 16th century. He also referenced the imposition of the Catholic faith as well as the human rights abuses committed by forces acting on behalf of the Spanish crown.

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“The churches were built above the temples, our patriotic heroes were excommunicated,” he said speaking among the ruins of an ancient Mexican city in a video posted to his social media accounts. “We are going to reconcile but first we ask for forgiveness.”

Spain's foreign ministry immediately published a statement rejecting the contents of Obrador's letter.

“The arrival 500 years ago of the Spanish on present-day Mexican territory cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations,” the government said.

“The government of Spain reiterates its willingness to work together with the government of Mexico.”

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Spain is currently one of Mexico's biggest sources of foreign direct investment but the Mexican government has yet to ratify a new free trade deal reached with European Union in mid-2018. Mexico also boasts the world's second largest Roman Catholic population after Brazil.

The conquest-proper began with the arrival of Hernán Cortés in 1519, and the powerful Aztec Empire was eventually defeated, paving the way for 300 years of Spanish rule. Mexico would eventually gain independence after an 11-year war which ended in 1821 after which it became a federal republic in 1824.

Obrador, 65, came to power in December and has maintained friendly relations with Spain's center-left government since his election.

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