Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is the current president of Mexico, elected in 2018 as part of the National Regeneration Movement party. In attempts to facilitate the national recognition and subsequent condemnation of Spain of their violent conquests against Mexico, the Mexican President wrote to the King of Spain, King Felipe IV “in the spirit of reconciliation ahead of the commemoration of the conquest and the 200thanniversary of the year Mexico achieved independence from Spain.” Not only did President Obrador write to King Felipe with his request for reconciliation, he sent a similar letter to Pope Francis. While President Obrador claims the request is in the name of reconciliation, such recognition by Spain would set quite the global precedent. Latin American countries throughout the world would follow suit, ultimately sparking a global conversation regarding the role of colonization in the development of modern “democracies” as well as the lasting effects upon societies today.
In 1519, Spanish conquistadors, particularly Hernán Cortés, left Spain and made their way to Mexico, navigating the Gulf coast and subduing indigenous Aztecs upon their arrival in the capital of Tenochtitlán. Conquistadors violently raped and pillaged the indigenous, bringing with them a slew of European diseases such as smallpox. The combination of violent domination and unintentional biological warfare had detrimental effects on the indigenous Aztec community, ultimately contributing to their demise in just two years following the arrival of the Spaniards. Spain’s role in wiping out the indigenous communities in Mexico eerily mirrors the arrival of other Europeans arriving in north America; particularly, the British arrival in the United States and the subsequent systematic suppression, exploitation, and elimination of Native Americans in the name of “Manifest Destiny”. The success of both the United States and Spain, and especially Spain, relies heavily on the disenfranchisement of indigenous people, and ultimately of minorities and non-elites.
Schumpeter critiques the 18thcentury definition of democracy; he says that democracy was accepted by the people as an election of elites due an expertise that the people lacked, as education and literacy were not as widespread as they are in the modern day. Additionally, elites were elected to decide on policy that facilitated the distribution and access to the “common good” for the population. Schumpeter, however, critiqued this definition in arguing that the actual definitionof a common good would never be widely accepted amongst the population, as what is considered to be a “common good” for one group would not necessarily be considered to be a “common good” for all groups. Although the Spanish conquest of Mexico took place in the 16thcentury and the American Manifest Destiny began in the 16thcentury, we see the elites of both societies creating the basis of elite-run societies. Fast forward until the 18thcentury, and we can stillsee the ruling of elites in North America and see the economic and social effects of conquest in North America in general. Today, the top financial 1% dominate the political and economic sphere in North America—in Mexico, and in the United States.
As aforementioned, the recognition of their past doings by the Spanish government would spark an international conversation about the accountability of present governments for the violent history of their development at the expense of others. Internationally, it would create shockwaves. Members of the socialist government under the Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, while the Foreign Minister Josep Borrell stated that it would be “weird to receive now this request for an apology for events that occurred 500 years ago.” Even the right-wing elite in Spain rejected the idea. However, addressing the truth of the history of one’s country forces the public and the government alike to recognize and ultimately mend systematic inequality present globally.
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