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Mexico Asks the Mayans for Forgiveness

From right, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and his Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero take part in the Appeal for Forgiveness for Grievances to the Mayan People ceremony, May 3, 2021.

The Mexican government officially apologized Monday to the Indigenous Mayan people for the wrongs committed against them since the Spanish conquest.

The apology, which comes 500 years since the Conquista, the conquest of Mexico, was formulated at the initiative of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his Guatemalan counterpart Alejandro Giammattei in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo.

"We apologize to the Mayan people for the terrible abuses committed by individuals and national and foreign powers during the Conquest, the three centuries of colonial rule and the two centuries of independent Mexico," the Mexican president said, referring particularly to the Caste War in the 19th century.

This conflict corresponds to an uprising of the enslaved Mayans in the Yucatan, which began in 1847 and ended in 1901, with the Indigenous Mayans opposing the white and mixed populations.

During the ceremony, the Mexican government recognized the racism and discrimination that this ethnic minority still suffers after Mexico's independence.

The construction of the Maya Train, flagship project of the current Mexican government, was mentioned during the ceremony and drew boos from residents.

In June 2020, Lopez Obrador gave the green light to the construction of the 1,500-kilometer Mayan Train line scheduled to cross different parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, where the resort of Cancun is located.

Several organizations reject the project, claiming that it will cause damage to the environment and to several Indigenous communities in this region.