Spain is "completely" rejecting the Mexican president's demand for an apology over crimes against his country's indigenous people 500 years ago, the Guardian reports. In a video posted on social media, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stood in the remains of an ancient city and made his case: "There were massacres and oppression," he said. "The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the [indigenous] temples. The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first." Then came a response from the government of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who had visited López Obrador in January.
"The Spanish government profoundly regrets" the request and "completely reject[s] its content," it said, but added that Spain's arrival in Mexico "cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations." At issue is the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs beginning in 1519, per the BBC. A small squadron led by Hernán Cortés wreaked havoc in Mexico with superior weaponry, horses, and disease, and converted indigenous peoples to Catholicism. Now López Obrador—Mexico's first left-wing president in decades—says the 500th anniversary of Spain's arrival can only be commemorated if there is reconciliation. The governments of other countries, including Canada and Australia, have apologized to their indigenous peoples in recent years. (Read more Mexico stories.)