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Will Spain Apologise for its Colonial Past?

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Marking the US Columbus Day holiday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation to make the 11 October US holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In his speech, Biden said the explorer’s arrival had led to “a wave of devastation” for Native Americans.

He further urged Americans not to “bury these shameful episodes of our past”.

As a response, Spanish right-wing politicians expressed total rejection to calls for Spain to apologise for dark chapters in its colonial past.

The leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, described Spain’s colonial expansion to the Americas as “the most important event in history after the Roman empire”.

His statements came on the eve of Spain’s 12 October holiday marking Christopher Columbus’s 1492 arrival in the New World.

“Does the kingdom of Spain have to apologise because five centuries ago it discovered the New World, respected those who were there, created universities, created prosperity, built entire cities? I don’t think so,” Mr Casado said in a video posted on Twitter.

For his part, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal, denounced Biden as “the lamentable president of the United States”.

He added: “He has just attacked the great masterpiece of the Spanish conquest: the evangelisation.

“How proud we can feel about what our ancestors did,” he said.

He further described the Spanish colonies as “the empire of human rights”.

Spain maintains close economic and cultural relations with its former colonies. However, many insist it has never acknowledged human rights abuses committed by the conquistadors and settlers who followed.


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