Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to temporarily halt relations with Spain for the time being. “The break will benefit both countries,” Lopez Obrador says at his daily press conference. He repeatedly demanded that Spain finally apologize for the atrocities of the colonial era.
Time to strike for old claims
The Mexican president’s words would have triggered a diplomatic crisis had it not been for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and for now. This is how the conservative Spanish newspaper El Confidencial sums it up.
What the newspaper means: The Mexican president’s allegations are not new and their timing is remarkable. In fact, Mexico’s president should have made a statement to the media on Wednesday on a topic sensitive to him: it’s about an alleged conflict of interest.
The president’s son and daughter-in-law are said to have benefited from deals with Pemex, Mexico’s large state-owned oil company. But López Obrador said nothing about the allegations – and instead dealt with Spain again.
The Spanish media are talking about transformative maneuvers
Spain has become the Mexican president’s punching bag, and the Spanish media are commenting and talking about a distraction tactic only marginally related to a dispute over colonial history.
In fact, the Mexican president also criticized Spanish energy and oil companies such as Iberdrola and Repsol. They have successfully done business in Mexico for years and are thus competitors to state-owned companies such as Pemex.
The economic relations between Spain and Mexico are close: Spain is the second most invested country in Mexico’s economy, after the United States. The government in Madrid knows that Mexico will continue to rely on these investments.
So the Spanish foreign minister was also relieved, telling the media that he knew nothing of the severing of relations with Mexico.
A long debate about colonial history
The fact that the Mexican president’s words caused weary shoulders to shrug in Spain also leads to debate over colonial history: this isn’t the first time this has affected Spanish-Mexico relations, but there is still a bit of differentiation on both sides of the Atlantic. Interrelationships are complex.
For example, an apology for colonial-era atrocities is out of the question for official Spain — not least because the descendants of the conquistadors, the Spanish conquistadors of the past, who ruled Mexico today.
Foreign Affairs Editor at SRF Radio
Teresa Delgado studied History, English and Spanish at the University of Freiburg and in the USA. She has been Editor and Producer at SRF Radio since 2016, and a foreign editor with a focus on Spain and Portugal since 2021.
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