american thanksgiving Settlers on one hand, conquerors on the other.

Colonies in the north, conquests in the south

Thanksgiving reflections on historical contrasts between U.S., Latin America

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.

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy

  • alance

    Armando González is a sucker for historical myths. It only took a generation or two for the children and grandchildren of the Pilgrims to slaughter the indigenous people of New England.

  • Henry Wilson

    as a clever mexican friend in the us (actually there legally…a rare find) commented re the difference between the spanish treatment of the indigenous and the english: “in the north your ancestors put the indigenous on resevations bigger than some of your states. in the south the spanish just enslaved and killed them . smart guy.

  • Blair york

    Actually it took way less than two generations to slaughter the indigenous people!..and after the slaughter they celebrated with a thanksgiving dinner!..make no mistake about their intentions..destroy their way of life…murder their women and children..and voila!..the new world!…then came smallpox!….Lincoln then made it a national holiday!…do they teach that in American schools??…it still carries forward to today!…the DAPL!

    • Henry Wilson

      thats it. im calling the men in the white coats. they should be pulling up in your driveway soon. oh thats right…you live on the street. my mistake. regardless, ditch the panty hose and stilettos first. it will go much easier for you that way.

      • Happygirl

        Your comment from Beware the Gringo Tax – thanks for the info and not posting a smartass response as did another commenter.

        • Henry Wilson

          you need to get with the other brain frozen canadian on this site. you two would make a great pair……of something. not sure what, but surely something.

          • Happygirl

            You think that you are free to make smartass coments but you should reflect upon how you come across. For me it is one word – troll. You are either an internet troll or a very sad, lonely, depressed individual..which most trolls are. Life is short, I wish you only happiness.

          • Henry Wilson

            lol! see my response to your fellow canuck norm cliff on the thread “canadian jailed”. it is difficult to believe you people are for real.

          • Sherryl Haverhals

            Oh Henry, I see you are smearing your special brand of feces all over this newspaper. I see clearly now. I’m going to report you to the newspaper and have you removed from being able to incite hatred and racism with your hateful speech.

          • Henry Wilson

            Lol! Get lost you old witch!

  • Blair york

    Is what what they taught you in school?? the north they rounded them up like cattle and then put them on reservations.. destroyed their way of life..killed their food supply and voila the new world…kind of worked out just like the Spanish!

    • kallen

      Colonialism has a dark past in any form but I think what the author is trying to say is that there was at least an effort in the north to build a country based on principles whereas in the south it was just spoils.

  • mikegre

    It’s all about IQ.

  • kallen

    True… most Mexican’s share these sentiments today and at some level hold the Spaniards responsible?

  • douglas ledbury

    The comments made below comparing the 2 conquerors are closer to the truth.
    The British governors first offered a reward for heads of indigenous and when that got too messy, switched to scalps only. When the newly free 13 colonies started expanding west, you could entertain yourself with a free rifle and ammo to shoot the first nations main prairie food supply, the buffalo, from the comfort of your train coach. To finish the first nation
    annoying habit of not being satisfied with their rez, Washington formed a specific unit to quash rebellion, the US Cavalry.

    You decide which was more brutal.

  • rfcoyne

    Just look at the number of indigenous surviving in Mexico and the number in the US. The Trump supporters want a wall to keep out Mexicans, mostly Mexicans with primarily Indian blood. not the European looking Mexicans.

  • Frothy Malt

    So your angry with Spain and jealous of America. You lost the Mexican American war and have never recovered. Instead you allowed your citizens to invade the prosperity of the north. Welp! We’re going to send a whole bunch of your citizens home. Use the free education they received here to rebuild your impoverished country.