Mexico to ask for return of Aztec headdress from Austrian museum |

Mexico to ask for return of Aztec headdress from Austrian museum

MEXICO CITY – Mexicans voiced new hope Wednesday that they will finally convince Austria to return a nearly five-century-old feather headdress which may have belonged to Aztec emperor Montezuma, which is currently in Vienna’s Ethnological Museum.A congressman from President Vicente Fox’s National Action Party said the government is proceeding with a diplomatic request for the artifact, sent out of the country by Spanish conquerors as war booty following the 1521 Conquest of Mexico, where it is considered a national treasure.”There are very good signals that it will finally be returned to Mexico,” said Rep. Jorge Triana, who sponsored a resolution recently approved by the lower house of congress demanding the return of the artifact.He quoted Mexican diplomats as saying there is “a willingness on the part of the Austrian government” and cited support from Austria’s Green Party, but noted that there was resistance from officials at the ethnological museum, who were not immediately available for comment.”It is an object of great cultural value that reinforces our identity as Mexicans,” Triana said.While there is no firm evidence to prove that the headdress of green feathers belonged to Montezuma, the Aztec emperor defeated by Spanish conquerors, it is of a type that was traditionally worn by Aztec nobles and rulers as a sign of rank.Xokonoschtetl Gomora, a Mexican activist who has battled for 15 years for the return of the one-yard wide relic, was even more hopeful.”I am sure that we have more than an 85 percent probability of getting the headdress returned,” Gomora told local media. “In that last few days, I have spoken with at least 25 Austrian parliament members from all parties, and have won their support.”He quoted Austrian lawmakers as saying that a scheduled meeting in May in Vienna between European and Latin American leaders would be “an ideal moment” to hand over the artifact to Mexico.Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez confirmed the government will try to win the return of the piece.”This is an impressive ceremonial headdress that we should have in our country, that should be returned to our nation,” said Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez.”We are going to continue with this request,” he said, noting that Fox had brought up the issue in May during a visit by Austrian President Heinz Fischer.At the time, Fischer called Mexico’s concern “understandable,” but noted “this is not a decision that falls within the range of the president. It is a question which Austria’s Parliament should decide.”He called the issue – similar to Greece’s demands that Britain return the Elgin marbles – “an issue that we ought to face, and discuss.” The marbles are a series of statues and fragments removed from Athens’ Parthenon in 1811 by Lord Elgin, and later sold to the British Museum.”This is an issue that effects all of Europe, not just Austria,” Fischer said, noting that museums from Berlin to Rome held foreign artifacts.Austria has long claimed the headdress legally forms part of the collection of the museum, where it has been kept for decades.Vail, Colorado

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