By Marti Quintana
Mexico City, May 17 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued a formal apology on Monday for the slaying of hundreds of Chinese people more than a century ago in the northern state of Coahuila during Mexico’s 1910-1917 revolution.
“I must say, with sorrow, with sadness, that after the so-called little genocide – for robbery and for racism – members of the Chinese community in Mexico continued to be persecuted and killed with impunity,” the president said at an event in Torreon, the city where the massacre took place.
Over the course of 10 hours on May 13, 1911, rebel troops who had just taken Torreon joined a mob of residents in terrorizing the city’s then-thriving Chinese community, killing 303 people and destroying homes and businesses.
People resentful of the newcomers’ success had been stirring up anger at the Chinese for months and seized on the withdrawal of government forces as an opportunity to carry out a pogrom.
Both Lopez Obrador and Coahuila Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme stressed the ongoing nature of the problem of ethnic and sectarian hatreds.
“Xenophobia, discrimination and racism are scourges that currently attack the dignity of people in a profound way,” Riquelme said. “Today we accept the disgrace for this intolerable deed.”
China’s ambassador to Mexico, Zhu Qingqiao, said it was a “great honor” to be part of the ceremony in Torreon aimed at “healing the wound left by history.”
Though noting the need to know about the past to avoid the recurrence of such tragedies, he hailed present-day Mexico as a land of coexistence among people of different nationalities and cultures.
Mexico is home to some 14,000 Chinese nationals and 40,000 Mexicans of Chinese descent, according to figures compiled by the embassy.
China and Mexico “have become strategic partners,” Zhu said.
The Asian giant is Mexico’s No. 2 trading partner behind the United States, with $90 billion in bilateral exchanges in 2019, while Chinese investment in the Aztec nation over the last two decades amounts to nearly $1.4 billion, nearly half of which has gone into manufacturing.
Ties between the two countries have been bolstered by China’s role in supplying vaccine and other medical supplies to Mexico amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Today I wish to thank the president of China, Xi Jinping, and its ambassador in Mexico, Zhu Qingqiao, as well as the scientists of China, its diplomats and its companies,” Lopez Obrador said.
To date, Mexico has received 38 plane-loads of medical goods from China, including several million doses of the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine.
Monday’s ceremony in Torreon was part of what promises to be a busy year for Mexico marking milestones such as the founding 700 years ago of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, the 500th anniversary of the victory over the Aztecs by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the bicentennial of Mexico independence. EFE mqb/dr