Source:El Mundo

Dear Mr Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of the Republic of Mexico. On 13 August, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the liberation – for you the fall – of Tenochtitlán, you quoted verbatim, without naming me, a paragraph from the interview that the newspaper El Mundo was kind enough to give me on Friday 23 July following the publication in Spain of my book Madre Patria. Desmontando la leyenda negra desde Bartolomé de las Casas hasta el separatismo catalán.

In your speech, you said:

There are issues that need to be clarified as far as possible. For example, a few days ago a pro-monarchist writer from our continent claimed that Spain did not conquer America, but that Spain liberated America, because Hernán Cortés, and I quote, ‘brought together 110 Mexican nations who were oppressed by the anthropophagous tyranny of the Aztecs and who fought with him’

You also accused me without any evidence – and without even bothering to look at my academic background or to gather information about my anti-imperialist political trajectory – of being a representative of colonialist thought.

Agreeing with your assessment that there are matters that need to be clarified, I would like to remind you that, as the Mexican archaeologist Alfonso Caso, former rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, states, “human sacrifice was essential in the Aztec religion”. That is why in 1487, to celebrate the completion of the construction of the great temple of Tenochtitlán – of which you inaugurated a monumental model on 13 August – the sacrificial victims formed four rows that stretched along the causeway linking the islands of Tenochtitlán. It is estimated that in those four days of feasting the Aztecs killed between 20,000 and 24,000 people.

However, Williams Prescott, hardly suspicious of Hispanism, gives a more chilling figure. “When the great temple of Mexico was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli in 1486, the sacrifices lasted several days and 70,000 victims perished”. Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, in his book Historia de América, relates that “when they took the children to be killed, if they wept and shed tears, the more joyful were those who took them because they took prognoses that they would have many waters [rain] that year”.

Prescott, one of the most critical historians of the Spanish conquest and one of the most fervent defenders of Aztec civilisation, has to admit:

The number of victims sacrificed each year was immense. Hardly any author puts it at less than 20,000 each year, and there are still some who put it as high as 150,000. Marvin Harris, in his famous work Cannibals and Kings, recounts: “Prisoners of war, ascending the steps of the pyramids, […] were seized by four priests, stretched face up on the stone altar and cut open at the chest with a knife… Then the victim’s heart – usually described as still beating – was torn out… The body rolled down the pyramid steps…”

Where were the bodies of the hundreds of human beings whose hearts had been ripped out at the top of the pyramids taken? What then happened to the victim’s body? What was the fate of the bodies that were sacrificed to the gods on a daily basis? Michael Hamer, who has analysed this question more intelligently and with more courage than the rest of the specialists, states that “there is really no mystery as to what happened to the corpses, since all the eyewitness accounts broadly agree: the victims were eaten.

The numerous scientific works – doctoral theses, books published by world-renowned scholars – that we have today leave no doubt that in Mesoamerica there was one oppressor nation, the Aztecs, and hundreds of oppressed nations, from whom the Aztecs not only took their raw materials – as all imperialisms have done throughout history – but also their children, their brothers and sisters…. to sacrifice them in their temples and then distribute the dismembered bodies of the victims in their butcher’s shops, as if they were pork chops or chicken thighs so that these dismembered human beings would serve as substantial food for the Aztec population.

The nobility reserved the thighs and the entrails were left to the populace. The scientific evidence we have today leaves no room for doubt in this respect. The Aztecs made so many human sacrifices of members of the people they enslaved that they used the skulls to build the walls of their buildings and temples.
That is why on 13 August 1521, the Indian peoples of Mesoamerica oppressed by the Aztecs celebrated the fall of Tenochtitlan. As you, Mr President, had to acknowledge in your speech, reluctantly and between the lines, it is materially impossible to think that, with just 300 men, four old arquebuses and a few horses, Hernán Cortés could defeat Montezuma’s army of 300,000 disciplined and brave soldiers. It would have been impossible, even if the 300 Spaniards had had automatic rifles like those used by the Spanish army today.

Thousands of Indians from the oppressed nations fought alongside Cortés against the Aztecs. That is why your compatriot José Vasconcelos says that “the conquest was made by the Indians”.

And what happened after the conquest, after those first hours of blood, pain and death? Quite the opposite of what you say. Spain merged its blood with that of the vanquished and with that of the liberated. And let us remember that there were more liberated than defeated. Mexico was filled with hospitals, bilingual schools and universities. Spain sent its best teachers to America and the best education was directed towards the Indians and the mestizos. Allow me to remind you, Mr President, that the Spanish liberators – excuse me: the conquistadors – were so respectful of the culture of the so-called native peoples that in 1571 the first Nahualt language grammar book was published in Mexico, that is to say, 15 years before the first English language grammar book was published in Great Britain. All the data show that, at the time of its independence from Spain, Mexico was much richer and more powerful than the USA.

Forgive me, Mr President, for beating around the bush, but I would respectfully suggest that on 2 February next, the anniversary of the ignominious Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – by which the United States seized 2,378,539 square kilometres of Mexico’s territory from the United States – you hold a big event like the one you organised for 13 August. To enhance it, invite the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, and in a great speech, when he stands before the American president, demand that he ask the Mexican people to forgive him for having stolen Texas, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona, lands that were indisputably part of Mexico.

Finally, dear President, I would like to tell you that since I was a child I have always felt a sentimental attachment to oppressed peoples – perhaps because I was born in a humble home in the city of Rosario in the Argentine Republic – and if I could travel through the tunnel of time, once and a thousand times, I would join the mere 300 soldiers of Hernán Cortés who, with the greatest courage known to history, liberated the Indians of Mexico from the anthropophagous imperialism of the Aztecs.