Thursday saw the United States celebrate its Thanksgiving Day in remembrance of the events of 1620 in Plymouth, New England.
In that year, a group of religious English migrants had traveled to America and established their colony, sharing the produce of the first harvests with the local indigenous peoples.
Those were years of struggle against inclement weather, famine, sickness and the bellicose acts of native tribes.
These religious family groups paid for their trip to the New World, along with a small armed force that protected them.
The men were mostly farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths and furriers, among other trades. Upon arrival they immediately went to work for the benefit of their communities, and in the company of their wives.
The unity of these groups contributed to the colonization of the Atlantic coast of what was to become the United States.
On the other hand, what unfortunately happened in Mexico and the rest of Latin America was more the consequence of a conquest in which military groups and soldiers of fortune cunningly seized upon and exploited indigenous labor, principally in mines and on large estates.
During the 1500s and 1600s, Spain was a great empire and one of the most corrupt nations in Europe. Anything could be obtained through favors granted by those close to the king, such as encomiendas, a labor system in which the Spanish crown rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of indigenous people.
There were few Spanish families and it was many years before they became part of society, though with marked social separation.
Here, in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, everything was the same: influences, cronyism, the preferences granted to peninsular Spaniards, the same situation we have continued suffering for centuries.
The indigenous cultures hadn’t tolerated corruption and used to punish it with public shaming and death.
While up in the north the settlers arrived to colonize and to work, here they came to conquer, exploit and create riches for a faraway king, destroying ancestral cultures stone by stone.
And then we wonder, surprised, what it is that has happened and continues to happen.
Armando González is a journalist and broadcaster who lives in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.