Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez traveled to Mexico this week on what is the first official visit by a foreign leader to see the new President of Mexico, Manuel López Obrador, since he took office on December 1.
Within the framework of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the exodus from Spain, Sánchez sought to convey to the Mexican Government the “profound gratitude and recognition of Spanish society” to the generosity of Mexico and of the Government of Lázaro Cárdenas with the first wave of Spaniards who fled Spain after the Spanish Civil War – some 25,000 exiles.
Pedro Sánchez took part in the main event held at the Mexico College, an institution set up by the Mexican Government in 1938, which took in Spanish researchers and intellectuals loyal to the Republic. Nowadays, this center is one of the leading university institutions in the Hispanic world. In his speech, Sánchez recalled the importance of “not forgetting the lessons of the past” in a clear allusion to the Spanish Civil War.
“We want to see a world in which these events never happen again”, said Sánchez, expressing his confidence in the European project to guarantee peace in Europe.
Sánchez recalled that almost half a million people were forced to leave Spain after the Civil War.
“I can’t think of any worse punishment for a human being than being forced to leave behind their family, their friends, their own language, their whole identity. Exile is always abominable, although thanks to this some of the most beautiful verse has been written”, said Sánchez, who quoted the name of some illustrious Spanish exiles in Mexico, which became home to the words of such artists as Luis Cernuda and Luis Buñuel, who praised the “extreme friendliness and hospitality of the Mexican people”, and defined that country as a “land of safe exile”, which became his home until his death.
“No wall can change that,” said Sánchez.
Sánchez highlighted the “prodigious cultural benefit” of the Republican exile in that country, which also contributed to “fuel the conscience of Spaniards resident back home”, and which are nowadays represented by the Mexico College and the Spanish Athenaeum, an institution that dates back to the promotion of Spanish culture and science in Mexico, and which celebrates 70 years of existence in 2019.
During his speech, Sánchez also called for those in exile today to be remembered, “migrants who flee from misery, persecution and violence, and recalled that this was what happened to Spaniards back in 1939”. He also recalled the Central American migrants and those displaced as a result of the current political crisis in Venezuela, stressing that “no governor is legitimate if his citizens are forced to leave their own country”.
Main trading partner in Latin America
The visit by Sánchez also served to enhance economic and trade relations between the two countries. Spain is the second largest investor in Mexico, with more than 6,000 companies present in the country.
In turn, Mexico has bedded down its position as one of the main investors in Spain, standing as the fifth largest international investor in 2018, and the second largest outside of the European Union, trade relations that will be strengthened by the agreement in principle, reached to update the EU-Mexico Global Agreement back in April.