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Latin American History


The formation of Latin America began with Spain's search for treasure in the Caribbean. The "Indies" of Columbus were rumored to be an area with gold and spices. Within a few years, Spain's search for treasure in the Caribbean fell apart because gold didn't seem to exist in the area. Their search for treasure then began to focus on the mainland which resulted in the Spanish colonization of the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas in Peru.

In 1521, the Aztec capital fell into the hands of Spanish conquistador Herman Cortes, who started constricting Mexico City with the stones from the destroyed pyramids. Francisco Pizza to used Corte's tactics during his conquest of the Inca Empire in South America. Pizza's army was much smaller than Corte's army. By 1532, Pizza to gained control of the Inca capital, Cuzco, by holding the Inca king hostage and managing to take control of the regime in a short period of time. The arrival of smallpox, influenza, and measles spread by the Spaniards to Mexico and Peru decreased the native population. Spain had little interest in conquering the heavily populated areas of Northern Mexico and the southern part of South America because no goods or silver was discovered in these areas. The northernmost areas of former Spanish land are in areas that are a part of the United States today including the mission towns of San Francisco and Santa Fe.

Spain primarily focused its colonization of the New World on the conquered areas of the Aztec and Maya lands. The conquered areas had a great amount of treasure including gold and silver. The native resistance was broken down in the Spanish colonies and a small group Spanish colonists became feudal lords who each had their own Spanish entourage and native servants. The royal government of Spain took one-fifth of the resources discovered and stolen from them with the rest split between the conquistadors. The arrival of draft animals and new crops helped enhance agricultural production in the colonies. The Spanish crown, the ruler of the colonies, allowed the conquerers of the natives to be able to demand monetary damages from the natives as a result of their efforts they took to conquer their lands. As a result of these demands, began a protest by priests in charge of converting the natives to Christianity in the colonies which was brought to the attention of the Spanish government in Madrid which later revoked the demands. I'm Spanish colonies, African slaves suffered more hardships and had one of the smallest positions in society in the colonies. African slaves in the colonies had a strong religious and cultural influence in the area of plantation.

The economy of Spanish colonies were mainly based on the mining of precious metals. The colonies limited the right to export goods to the Spaniards as only Spanish ships were allowed to carry goods. Flotillas carrying the resources mined by the colonies had restrictions placed to protect what was coming from the Americas from pirates and to restrict the goods sent from and taken from the colonies. When mining for gold declined, the Spanish government expo a crisis. Mining production stayed low for over a century. As new technology was introduced, mining for gold began to rise again in the later eighteenth century and than it began to slow!y decline again.

The Spanish colonies fight for independence began in the nineteenth century. As the upper class of colonies were trying to dominate their power over the lower class, much of the upper class declared their independence from the Spanish government to avoid reforms put in place in Madrid. The war for independence in the Spanish colonies lasted from 1810 to 1825. Without the monarch, most of the upper class lacked any political experience and they couldn't form a stable government. The former Spanish colonies economies were dependent on foreign imports and investments. By the twentieth century, Latin American countries began to form a better political system that began to recognize the rights of its citizens and challenging the Spanish rule over them.

© 2020 Nathan Neel

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