Pre-Columbian plumed headdress, believed to have been worn by Moctezuma. Photo: Google


Not content to have offended Panama last week by having likened its foreign minister to the Spanish Inquisition for rejecting his proposed ambassador, disgraced university professor and accused sexual assailant Pedro Salmerón Sanginés, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — always the diplomat (NOT) — insulted the government of Austria on Monday, Feb. 7, calling it “selfish” and “anticultural.”

During his daily press conference at the National Palace, AMLO accused the Austrian government of having a policy “that can only be described as anticultural and selfish” for refusing to lend a pre-Columbian headdress that may have been worn by Moctezuma to Mexico for an exhibit last year that was part of the celebrations of the Bicentennial of the Consummation of Mexico’s Independence.

López Obrador went on to say that the Austrian government had justified its decision to refuse to loan the headdress to Mexico on studies have been carried out indicating that if the relic were moved, it would be damaged.

AMLO said that he had written a letter to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in October of last year requesting “the loan of the pre-Hispanic headdress, not its return,” but that the Austrian head of state “completely refused.”

The elaborate plumed headdress — which allegedly belonged to Moctezuma II, the last Mexica (Aztec) emperor, but which does not match any Aztec illustrations of the attire of their nobility — has been a thorn of contention between Mexico and Austria for years.

Allegedly brought to Austria in 1575, it is currently on display in Vienna’s Museum of Ethnology.

But Mexico has repeatedly demanded the return of the headdress, claiming it is part of its national cultural heritage.

Austrian has stated that the bejeweled headdress, with green quetzal feathers, cannot be returned to Mexico because it is too fragile for shipment, presenting various studies confirming that position.

In 2012, yet another evaluation was carried out in cooperation with Mexican representatives that reached the same conclusion.

But on Monday, AMLO said that Austria should return the headdress regardless of its frailty.

“Those who have the plumed headdress, illegally, argue that it cannot be moved. They claim that that they have done studies and that it would be damaged,” he said.

“Austria has a policy that I would call anticultural and selfish.”

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