By Claire Gordon • 12 October 2021 • 18:34
Pablo Casado, the leader of the Spanish conservative Popular Party, has rebuffed the idea that Spain should apologise for its colonial past. The calls came after president Joe Biden acknowledged that a “wave of devastation” occurred for Native Americans after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. He asked for Americans to not “bury these shameful episodes of our past”. He voiced these thoughts in a Columbus day speech, the night before the National Day of Spain on October 12.
Santiago Abascal, who leads the far-right VOX party, called Biden ‘lamentable’. He said, “He has just attacked the great masterpiece of the Spanish conquest: the evangelisation”. Vox is the third-largest party in parliament. It has taken up the cause of defending the historical importance of Spain. Lots of separatist rhetoric has fuelled nationalist feelings in some areas of Spain. This seems to be why the right-wing parties are so against any thought of Columbus apologies.
The Conquistadors brought diseases to Latin America that wiped out huge numbers of people native to the area. This assisted the settlers’ plans of taking over land and produce. The Europeans also had guns and other superior weapons, used to massacre any indigenous people who resisted.
The recent rounds of back and forth are again stirring up debate about the past. There is a wave of thought leaning towards the recognition of colonialism as having two sides. Many countries involved in the New World events have called for a reassessment. Even Pope Francis has acknowledged the “personal and social sins” committed by the Catholic Church in Mexico after the conquest of Latin America. The leftist president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, welcomed the Popes message. As a campaigner for Indigenous rights, he has often called for an apology from Spain.
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