Mexican President wants to ‘pause’ relations with Spain

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s populist, nationalist leader has been involved in recurring spats with Spain, but relations hit a new low on Wednesday when President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that The relationship between the two countries should be halted.

Lopez Obrador said it was like a pause for Spain, which he had previously asked to apologize for for the brutality of the 1521 Conquest of Mexico and centuries of colonial rule. Spain has never done so, and some have accused Lopez Obrador of using the five-century issue to distract attention.

Lopez Obrador did not explain exactly what the pause means, but the proposal comes at the end of a criticism against Spanish energy companies that he says have taken advantage of the reopening of the region. private sector in Mexico. The president claimed they took part in the “robbery” and treated Mexico like “a conquered land.”

Lopez Obrador said in his daily press conference: “The relationship is not good at the moment. “I want to put it on hold, until we can normalize it, which I think will be in the best interest of the Mexicans and the Spaniards.”

“Let’s give ourselves a moment, a pause,” he said. “It is possible that relations will be re-established when the administration changes.”

Spain’s Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, downplayed the Mexican President’s remarks, noting that they were made “in an informal setting, in response to a journalist’s question, and because that does not constitute a school establishment or an official statement.”

“You’re going to have to ask President Lopez Obrador what he wants to say about this,” Albares said.

Spanish energy companies such as Repsol and Iberdrola took advantage of loopholes over the last decade that allowed private and foreign companies to build power plants in Mexico, a sector once under dominated by Mexican state-owned companies.

Lopez Obrador is looking to reverse those loopholes, as he thinks state-owned companies are put at a disadvantage against private companies. That proposed change has raised concerns about the protection of investments by Spanish companies.

In a 2020 letter, Lopez Obrador wrote, “The Catholic Church, the Spanish monarchy and the Mexican government should issue a public apology for the atrocities suffered by indigenous peoples.”

The letter comes as Mexico marks the 500th anniversary of its conquest of 1519-1521, which resulted in the death of a large portion of the country’s pre-Hispanic population.

In 2019, Lopez Obrador asked Spain for an apology for the conquest.

Spain’s foreign minister at the time, Josep Borrell, said his country “would not issue the apology that has been requested.”

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