Mexico and Spain strain their bilateral relationship.

Pedro Sánchez and Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Presidency of Mexico

The government of Pedro Sanchez conveyed to the government of Lopez Obrador its “enormous displeasure” for being excluded from the military event that will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the consummation of Independence. This is in addition to AMLO’s insistent request for Spain to apologize for the grievances during the Conquest.

MEXICO CITY (Proceso) – Mexico and Spain are experiencing an unusual diplomatic crisis. The government of Pedro Sanchez transmitted to the government of Lopez Obrador its “enormous displeasure” for being excluded from the military event that will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the consummation of Independence. This is in addition to AMLO’s insistent request for Spain to apologize for the wrongs committed during the Conquest and to the harsh remarks he launched from the National Palace against Spanish companies regarding the reform of the Energy Law. During his visit to Madrid, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tried to “put out the fire,” sources from both governments tell Proceso.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, made a stopover in Madrid on April 30 -taking advantage of his trip to Russia. Focused on the supply of vaccines against covid-19-, he tried to alleviate the “enormous displeasure” of the government of Pedro Sánchez upon learning that Spain is excluded from the round of invitations that the Mexican government made to different nations to participate in the symbolic commemorations that take place this 2021. Among them the events for the 500th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlan and the 200th anniversary of the consummation of Independence.

AMLO reiterates that the King of Spain and the Pope must apologize for abuses during the Conquest. At the beginning of February, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, made known the deep discomfort caused by such exclusion, through the Mexican Ambassador to Spain, María Carmen Oñate, who communicated it to the Chancellery, confirmed to Proceso separately a former Spanish diplomat and a member of the 4T government, both aware of the episode and others that cross this “anno horribilis” for the bilateral relationship.

Throughout 2021 there are 15 events of the emblematic commemorations. However, the highlight will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the consummation of Independence on September 27 and previously the civic-military parade on September 16. The participation of military contingents from several countries is being prepared.

Diplomatic tension
Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s differences with Spain include the letter he sent in March 2019 to King Felipe VI, in which he asks him to admit Spain’s “historical responsibility” for the “grievances caused” during the Conquest and to offer “the apologies or political reparations” that this entails, as pointed out in the president’s letter, finally made public last January.

The tension caused by the permanent criticism of the president to Spanish companies, and particularly the case of the energy company Iberdrola, which has been the center of the presidential attacks in the framework of the reform of the energy law of his mandate, and for the alleged corruption in which this company was involved in the governments of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto.

In this visit, Ebrard sought to correspond to the visit that González Laya made to Mexico last November. The minister tried to overcome the crisis in the bilateral relationship.

Although Ebrard also met with the Minister of Transportation and Mobility, José Luis Ábalos, and the Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, the central theme of the visit was to reciprocate the gesture of González Laya’s visit to Mexico and to try to lower the tension of the disagreements.

After the meeting, the communiqué issued by the SRE highlighted that the Spanish Minister reiterated “Spain’s will to be part of the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Consummation of Mexico’s Independence.”

González Laya’s position is in line with the message of King Felipe VI, during his greeting to the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Spain on January 28, in which the monarch called on Mexico to “enhance a common past,” and reiterated his “firm determination to continue contributing to the development and well-being, present and future, of its peoples and citizens.”

“Spain -he said in allusion to the commemorations throughout America- wishes to actively accompany these celebrations that should allow us not only to enhance a common past but also and, above all, to reiterate our firm determination to continue contributing to the development and welfare, present and future, of its peoples and citizens.” 

The Mexican foreign ministry’s political gesture with his visit did not save the López Obrador government’s decision not to include Spain in the celebrations, and which maintains its demand that the Spanish state asks for an official pardon for the wrongs committed during the Conquest, as it points out in its March 2019 letter.

The Yucatan Times
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