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Spanish labor systems and indi

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Spanish labor systems and indi

In the US it is very common to still hear of the poor way

African Americans were treated in the early part of this

nations History. We hear stories of black slaves working 18

hour days picking cotton and the trauma of slaves being

beaten for disobeying their masters. For many African

American families, it seems, that was the way of life not

long ago. While it is very important to realize what these

African Americans went through, I think it is often

forgotten that indigenous people of Latin America were

exploited in similar ways but through different Labor


From Spain's early arrival in the Caribbean through

their establishment of the Spanish empire indigenous people

were exploited through cheap, slave like labor. One of the

most incredible subjects raised by the documents presented

in Colonial Spanish America is the topic of Labor Systems

that were imposed on the indigenous people. Spain tried to

excuse this exploitation by claiming to save these

indigenous people by teaching them the ways of Christ but

many of the Articles in Colonial Spanish America, Struggle &

Survival, and The Limits of Racial Domination prove

otherwise. Through letters, personal stories, and other

documents these books present accounts that tell about the

labor system used in this area. They tell of the Spanish

labor systems such as the encomiendos and later

rapartamientos and how these operations were run. In

discussing the Labor system that existed during the time of

Spanish rule it is important to understand what labor

systems that were used, why the Spanish used them, how they

justified using indigenous people in such a way, how the

indigenous as well as black slaves were treated in these

systems, and the effects the Labor Systems had on the

indigenous population.

As soon as the first Spanish entradas arrived in the

New World they realized the vast resources that had been

virtually untapped. They saw incredible wealth in the sugar

cane crops and the wood dyes in Brazil, and the silver mines

in Potosi and other northern areas, plus many other raw

resources. At first the Labor systems were very

underdeveloped in Colonial America, the indigenous people

had produced just enough to use what they needed and in some

cses a little extra for some trade with neighboring peoples

but there was no large scale operations anywhere until the

invasion of the Spanish. Spain saw all the resources in the

Americas as great wealth for the Crown and the entrada

leaders saw the opportunity for themselves. They also new

that the development of the resources ?ultimately depended

on the labor of non-Spaniards. At the begging of the

Spanish arrival there were millions of indigenous people

throughout the lands who were willing to trade and

incorporate the Spanish peacefully. However the early

entrada leaders knew that the most efficient way to fulfill

their greed and honor the Crown of Spain was to exploit the

indigenous people. Examples of these early labor

exploitation's were the encomiendas and repartamientos.

Later with the increase in immigration from Spain to New

Spain there was a shift in demand from the resources of

wealth such as the mines and the wealthy sugar crops to a

more general need of Spanish goods including wheat, cattle

and other general Spanish goods. As more and more Spaniards

arrived in New Spain the demand for Spanish food and goods

increased so Spanish Rule used hidden Labor Systems like the

tribute and work project systems to get the native people to

work their haciendas and to build their churches, homes, and

cities. According to The Limits of Racial Domination the

Spanish believed as long as 'the Indians exist, the Indies

will exist.? The Spanish new that they could live well as

long as they exploited the indigenous people they would live

well. In fact it is quoted in The Limits of Racial

Domination that ?In the sixteenth century, the white

community lived on the surplus produced by a vast number of

Indians working in a very primitive economic system...?

Then by the next century they had changed the economy to one

modeled after the contemporary European design.? In summary

the reason that the Spanish used the labor systems they did

is because they knew the people could be exploited. They

were greedy about getting the fortunes for the Crown and

they were processing the ?primitive economic system? into

?an economy of contemporary European design?. The Spanish

new the easiest and cheapest way to make this transition was

through the use of indigenous labor.

According to lecture the first of the indigenous

laborers worked in the mines. The early mines were worked

through surface diggings and later evolved into shaft

mining. Every mine operator, or minero, sent 1/5 of the

mines wealth back to the crown. Potosi was one of the first

great silver mines. The Spanish ran their mines by

exploiting the indigenous people. The Spanish used different

ways of getting labor. The initial way they did this is

through the use of early encomiendas. Encomiendas were,

according to Colonial Spanish America, ?a grant of labor and

tribute rights from the crown to an encomendero over a

specified group of Indians.? The encomenderos was the man

in charge of an Indian group who would demand manual labor

and tribute from the Indians in exchange for payment,

protection and religious instruction. Later on

repartamientos took place of the encomiendas. The

Repartamientos were different from encomiendas because they

were a designated percent of the male work force that had to

work for the crown instead of a single person or<...

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Keywords: labor systems in spanish colonies

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