Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that Spain's King Felipe VI should apologize for the genocide of the native peoples in America.
“We join the voices that are raised in America to demand that the King of Spain rectify, reflect and apologize to Latin America and the Caribbean for the 300-year genocide against indigenous peoples,” Maduro said.
The Venezuelan leader criticized Spain's celebration on Oct. 12 of Dia de la Hispanidad, or Hispanic Day, a national holiday in Spain that commemorates the date when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas in 1492.
According to Maduro, it represents an "immense offense to the memory of the men and women they murdered."
“More than 500 years ago, the Spanish empire killed, banished and enslaved millions of indigenous people. They came here to invade, colonize and massacre our grandfathers and grandmothers. Spain must rectify and apologize to all of America," the head of state said on Twitter.
Maduro said he will send a letter to the King of Spain to “reflect” on the events that marked colonialism and genocide in Latin America and stressed that "Spain also has a good, glorious, heroic history of struggle against colonialism, against vassalage," so it should understand.
People in various Latin American countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador took to the streets Tuesday to demand the vindication of the rights of indigenous peoples who suffered at the hands of European settlers.
Maduro welcomed the mobilizations to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela.
“In the streets of Caracas, a clear message was given: these lands will never again be anyone's colony,” he said.
It is not the first time that a Latin American leader has demanded an apology from Spain.
In 2019, Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent a letter to Spain's King Felipe VI and Pope Francis asking them to apologize for human rights abuses committed during the conquest of the region 500 years ago.
The Spanish government at the time released a statement saying it “firmly rejected” the assertion.