Mexico Apologizes to Indigenous Mayans for Centuries of Abuse

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On Monday, the Mexican government issued an apology to the indigenous Maya people for years of abuse and discrimination.

“We offer the most sincere apologies to the Maya people for the terrible abuses committed by individuals and national and foreign authorities in the conquest, during three centuries of colonial domination and two centuries of an independent Mexico,” Mexico’s President Andres Lopez Obrador said during a visit to the rebellion’s headquarters in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo state.

The apology came as the country remembered the anniversary of the 1901 indigenous rebellion in North America. As many as 250,000 lives were lost during the 1847-1901 Caste War revolt.

At the time, Yucatán (like most of New Spain) was under a legal caste system. High-born officials in Spain were at the top, followed by the Creoles of Spanish descent. The Mestizo population followed them, then the native “Hidalgos,” descendants of the Pre-Columbian nobility. The Indios (indigenous peoples of the Americas) were ranked bottom.

“For centuries, these people have suffered exploitation and abuse. Today we recognize something which we have denied for a long time: the wrongs and injustices committed against the Mayan people,” Mexican Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said. “

“Today, we ask forgiveness in the name of the Mexican government for the injustices committed against you throughout our history and for the discrimination which even now you are victims of,” Sánchez Cordero added.

Many members of the Mayan community feel the apology may be nothing more than a tokenistic gesture. For years, Mexico has leaned on its rich Mayan heritage to lure tourists. Still, the money is never redirected to the community it has discriminated against and exploited for hundreds of years.

“We realize that we have a great history, that we are held up as an example, and people make a lot of money off our name, but that money never shows up in our communities,” Mayan activist Alfaro Yam Canul said.

Will this apology mean that Mexico is ready to share its profits with the Indigenous Mayan community?

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