The recent visit of Madrid´s regional premier, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, to the United States raised more than a few eyebrows for her defence of the 16th century Spanish conquest of the Americas.
Speaking days after Pope Francis reiterated his apologies to Mexico, for the “very painful mistakes” committed by the Catholic Church during the period, Ayuso said that one of her missions was to defend the Spanish legacy against “black legends” and “indigenismo” that were still current among some countries.
In a letter, marking the 200th anniversary of Mexico´s independence from Spain, Pope Francis, said that “it is necessary to re-read the past, taking into account both the lights and the shadows that have shaped the history of the country,” and which must include, “a process of purification of memory, that is, recognizing the mistakes made in the past, which have been very painful.”
Ayuso described “indigenismo” as a “new communism” that threatens to create a false history and destroy “the Spanish legacy in America,” and “viewed with horror the attacks on Spain which brought a new civilisation to the continent.”
In a separate development, the mayor of the town of Medellin, birthplace of the Conquistador,Hernán Cortés, is reported to have asked for the repatriation of his body from Mexico City, due to rising anti-Spanish feeling in the country.
Cortés is credited with leading the expedition that subjugated the Aztec Empire leading to its absorption by the Spanish, who then went on to conquer central and much of South America in the following decades.
The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, also weighed in to the defence of Spain´s imperial past saying that: “I am very proud to belong to a nation like Spain that was able in 1492 to discover another continent, and proud that more than 500 years later we have an Ibero-American region in which we are united by a culture, language, traditions and a relationship of brotherhood.”
On the eve of Spain´s national celebration of Hispanidad, Almeida said that the conquest of America was “a feat, an epic that served to create brotherhood relations between 23 nations.”
The Dia de Hispanidad is a national holiday bringing together the Spanish-Speaking international community, through the marking the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus for Spain, on October 12, 1492, as well as a celebration of the Spanish nation.
The mayor claimed the country´s past has been disfigured and distorted by the propaganda of the past.
The so-called leyenda negra – black legend – was spun by English and Dutch propagandists in the 16th and 17th century which sought to depict Catholic Spain as a cruel and bloodthirsty nation of which the conquest of the Americas as well as the Spanish Inquisition were intregal parts.