Beatriz Gutiérrez meets with the French and Italian presidents to request the temporary loan of archaeological pieces to commemorate the fifth centenary of the conquest of Mexico
Mexico carefully prepares the triple commemoration that awaits next year, pandemic through. The president seeks to organize exhibitions with the country’s most precious pre-Hispanic treasures, with the aim of “showing Mexicans the cultural greatness” of those peoples, “distorted”, he affirms, “by the interests of the invaders and colonizers.” The problem is that a good part of the ancient riches of Mexico are all over the world, which is why Andrés Manuel López Obrador has sent Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, his wife, on a mission that, in some way, can be described as historical. The writer and historian is visiting Europe these days to rescue some pieces that will serve to gloss the anniversary of Mexico’s independence from the Spanish monarchy (1821), the fifth centenary of the fall of Tenochtitlán (1521), and the foundation of the first towns in that city in 1931.
The emissary has delivered this Friday a letter to the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, in which his Mexican colleague asks for a loan, with all the guarantees of repayment – something that López Obrador will take care of personally – two precious codices of Aztec culture and Mexica, who some century came to Italy to stay. The so-called Codex Fiorentino It is in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, a cultural treasure written between 1540 and 1585 by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in three languages, Nahuatl, Latin, and Spanish. It is “a very valuable testimony about the daily life and indigenous cosmogony and contains illustrations made by Tlacuilos, the ancient Mexican illustrators,” says López Obrador in the letter that his wife has delivered to the Italian today. The second is at the University of Bologna, it was written before the Spanish invasion and also belongs to the Nahuatl culture. The Codex Cospi or Bologna, reveals the advances in mathematics and astronomy of that town.
The letter that López Obrador sends this time to his Italian colleague does not save on flattery about the good relations and the history and culture shared between both countries. The president tells him about a Garibaldi grandson who fought alongside Francisco I. Madero in the Mexican revolution against the dictator Porfirio Díaz, who, by the way, liked French influence at that time. The Mexican president reviews the biography of that Garibaldi in a story that passes through Macondo, Aureliano Buendía, José Martí, Che Guevara, and Catarino Erasmo Garza, the protagonist of one of the books that he has written and that he has also sent as a present of goodwill to Mattarella.
The president, interested in “insisting on the greatness of pre-Hispanic Mexico”, requests the intersection of his Italian colleague with the Florentine Library and the University of Bologna so that both cultural jewels travel to Mexico next year. They have to contribute, as he explains, “to the enhancement of historical memory, something fundamental in the Fourth Transformation” of the country, as he himself calls his mandate.
During his visit to Rome, Gutiérrez Müller discovered that two vases that the King Maximilian of Habsburg gave to the King of Italy and that today adorn the Quirinal, were also from the colonial era. “Mexico and Italy always united”, he celebrated on Instagram. The tour of Europe will also stop in Austria and Germany, according to sources from the Presidency.
Before Italy, the president’s wife stopped in France, where she was received by Brigitte Macron, wife of the French president. There he was able to visit some exhibitions related to the Mexican historical past, also the object of this visit, since Mexico requests archaeological pieces in France with the same destination, the festivities of 2021. Last year around this time, the French house Millon put up for auction More than a hundred Mexican archaeological pieces and although the Government of López Obrador tried to avoid it, they did not succeed. Days later, also in France, Sotheby’s auctioned another 44 pieces, and the Ministry of Culture then described the French Administration as “hostile” to a possible recovery of heritage for the North American country.
The Mexican president was invited by Emmanuel Macron to France for the opening of the exhibition on the Olmecs that his wife finally attended this week. López Obrador declined the invitation, according to diplomatic sources cited by Mexican media. The president has only left his country on an official trip once, to meet with Donald Trump at the White House last July.