“When you don’t do that, it ends up manipulating history sometimes with good intentions and sometimes with bad,” he said.
Pro-Hispanic or pro-indigenous?
For Fernández, “a point that we have not yet resolved in Mexico” is the “very pro-Hispanic or very pro-indigenist views.”
“I think we should start from the present,” he said. “We have to understand that today’s Mexico is indigenous, and it is Spanish, and it is Mexico, too.”
After emphasizing that “Mexicans have a tremendous mingling of cultures,” Fernández pointed out that “the events of the past are not subject, and this is very valid, whether we like them or not.”
“The events of the past are there, and they’re a starting point or a line of continuity to understand what we are today,” he said.
“We have to understand that these two worlds that are going to give rise to Mexico had their points of collision, but that they also have their points of communication,” he said.
The Mexican historian lamented that looking for “that right balance” at this time “is very difficult,” because “today, in global terms, what is sought is to be in confrontation with the past.”
‘It’s not a matter of heroes and villains’
The professor at the Pan-American University pointed out that it’s important to see that the protagonists of the conquest of the Americas “are people: with the good, with the bad, with the imperfections, and with noble and ignoble ideas.”
“We are all human beings, and as human beings we are capable of the noblest things at some point, and also the villainous. No one is exempt from that,” he observed.
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Neither Cortés, who conquered Mexico for Spain, nor Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor, “were perfect, nor were they that hero for some and this villain for others,” he stressed.
Fernandez lamented that “we are still half at odds with the past in Mexico,” discussing “about the conquest and whether it was good or bad.”
“Let’s take it all in. We can reflect on it, but it has already happened, the conquest took place, independence took place, the revolution took place,” he said.
“You can’t judge your life today or the current environment or others by things that happened in the past,” he stressed.
For the Mexican historian, “we have to point to the present and to the future, and have a healthy relationship with our past.”
“And kind of forgive ourselves a little bit and say: this is what it has been. It marks me, yes, but it doesn't condition me,” he added.