Claudia Luna Palencia
n his ‘Labyrinth of Solitude’, the magnificent universal writer Octavio Paz deconstructed in an exceptional way all the demons that, in one way or another, Mexicans carry inside them as if they were a heavy chain from which they could not escape.
There is no one like a Mexican to understand another Mexican, and Paz did an excellent job of it. Because that remora is atavistic and from time to time it is used in a Manichean and intentional way by politicians who, in the exercise of power or in the highest structure of government, try to make use of the grudges of the past, sticking their finger in the wound to make it fester again.
The celebration of 12 October, Columbus Day in Mexico and Spain’s Día de la Raza and Día de la Hispanidad in Spain, comes with several clashes and insults between right-wing and far-right politicians in Spain and the MORENA group, which is the stronghold of the current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The issue of the historical pardon requested by letter to the Spanish monarchy had been kept low profile, but the government of socialist Pedro Sánchez has not been able to get the conservatives of the Popular Party (PP) and much less those of VOX into the fray. Both have come out to point out that apologising is not their thing and that they should be thanked for bringing civilisation, the advances of the moment and evangelisation to Mesoamerica.
This past weekend, VOX registered two initiatives in Congress: the first, to ask the Sánchez government to organise a series of tributes to the figure of Hernán Cortés on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Conquest of Mexico; and the second, to ask the López Obrador government to “decorate the tomb of Cortés” whose plaque is on a wall of the church of Jesús de Nazareno in the historic centre of the Aztec capital.
In addition to all this, there has been a series of statements, from both sides of the Atlantic, with nonsense that is out of tune, out of place and out of step with the times. Historical revisionism only contributes not only to resurrecting the dead but also to reviving hatred and unnecessary confrontations that end up dwelling on a past that is already buried.
The conservative and ultra-right-wing Spanish politicians who have taken it upon themselves to publicise and give prominence to the Aztec president’s request seem to feel that the issue fits them like a glove at a time when the rescue of nationalism and all its intrinsic isms is intended to make people, believing in the homeland, rush to the polls to fill them with votes after they have filled them with resentment.
In this ill-intentioned use and misuse of what lies behind all the intentions of one side or the other, there is this sort of “we are the good guys and they are the bad guys”.
They have finally played into the hands of the Mexican president, installed in the National Palace, accustomed to controlling and setting the agenda of the day in the Aztec country: from six in the morning with his famous “mornings” he stuffs the press with all his witticisms.
On the subject
Paz wrote that the catharsis that Mexicans carry within them does not escape from those origins resulting from the colonisation they suffered and that often, despite the hundreds of years that have passed, they still find it hard to get used to living with and accepting it.
For those who accompany López Obrador in power, their bitterness and resentment for such a distant past is so great that not only have they removed the statues of Columbus from the emblematic roundabouts, but in the coming weeks they will send an indigenous poet as director of culture at the Mexican embassy in Spain.
As if it would affect the Iberian country. The grotesque gestures only reveal a certain hidden anger and rage as if something very personal had happened to those who are the source of these ideas.
Letting go of the past and freeing oneself from it is what Mexico has been fighting for in recent decades with its modernisation and the change in the discourse that we are the losers.
A discourse that is currently used by the most nationalist ideological forces, those who use the foreigner as an invader; those who rescue the corpses of the past to feed people’s morbid curiosity and keep public opinion distracted, and those who use minorities to use them to the extent that they vindicate them under their own canons.
It is very easy, said Paz, to blame others for one’s own mistakes, incapacities and frustrations; and if past generations had already closed wounds, now ill-intentioned information is put into the minds of many children, adolescents and young people who, without properly understanding the conflict (or what is going on), are completely influenced. This is how they enter the labyrinth of hatred.
© This article was originally published in Atalayar / All rights reserved