‘…and the weak suffer what they must’?

If we recall that oft-quoted observation attributed to Thucydides, ‘The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must’, the question arises whether that is the ‘natural order’ or whether ‘the weak’, in their increasing abundance in the midst of a surge in obscene wealth, are distracted into acquiescence or indifference. Curiously, that strategy of distraction seems to work mainly in the ‘advanced countries’ – aside the indigenous.

In contrast, elsewhere there are continuing examples of vigorous efforts on the part of campesinos and the indigenous to defend their rights and their heritage – often with fatal consequences. Here we cast a glance at small sample of countries of Latin America.

The Guardian, exceptional among Western media in its focus – The defenders – on such issues, offers us a portrait in photos of the challenges faced by the indigenous of Honduras, a country, which, as a consequence of a military coup d’état abetted by the US in June 2009, has become a victim of unrelenting violence and a drastic reversal of social gains achieved under the deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

The foreboding title says it all, Blood flows and rivers run dry as Honduras prepares to go to the polls – in pictures. The ghost of the murdered Berta Cáceres is untiring in keeping alive the struggles of such peoples against dispossession, destitution and death.

Another news site that focuses on issues of the Latin America and Caribbean regions is teleSUR. A quick look at the challenges faced by a nation of indigenous that straddles today’s Argentina and Chile, the Mapuche. Here we have one of its many articles, Mapuches of Chile and Argentina Launch Cross-Border March

They [Mapuche leaders of Argentina and Chile] both exposed the situation of repression lived daily in the ancestral territories and called for the solidarity of Argentines and Chileans to defend the rights of native peoples.

They accused both governments of having criminalized their struggles in the interests of foreign companies in the Patagonia region, with the support of the mainstream media.

And in the case of the Mapuche of Argentina, this interesting ‘tidbit’ and question. How is it possible that Benetton can own a sizeable chunk of Mapuche ancestral land, a chunk that is the size of Puerto Rico – land that the Mapuche neither deeded nor leased nor sold to Benetton? Of course, the role and complicity of government (on behalf of corporations, especially the MNCs) cannot be dismissed – to put it gently.

Such refusal to surrender to predatory and ruthless neoliberalism impels us to reflect on another ancient observation, The unexamined life is not worth living. That should be an inspiration to the disengaged, especially to those induced into comfortable indolence.

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