Social Consequences of the Colombian Exchange

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The development of American civilisation in the New World is a result of the Native American and African black labourers. Forced to surrender to Spanish authority, examine the social consequences of the Columbian exchange.

Needing labourers to excavate mines, work in textile factories, sugar plantations and farms, the Spanish and Portuguese employed the Native Americans and Africans. Considered dispensible, many natives died at an early age either because of the newly introduced diseases or the poor working conditions. Carmelite friar Antonio Vazquez de Espinoza's documents mention the flourish of new animals and plants as well as describing the native people's role and adjustment as a result of the transfer. L.F. Tollenare, a french cotton merchant documents the working conditions in a Brazilian sugar plantation 200 years later in 1818.

Antonio's documents reveal that the indians are owned by Great Lords or the Church and their labours are supposedly voluntary; “they bring themselves to enter the Spaniard's service ( Espinoza 19)”. However, looking at his report on the mexican textile factory, the indians are treated immorally; “...and the poor fellow never gets out that prison until he dies (Espinoza 92)”. The corruption of the mill owners is only an empty criticism because the priest is appointed to observe and report only. Forced labour is further implicated in Tollenare's account, still happening 200 years later. He mentions,“I am not speaking of the slaves, who are nothing but cattle...slaves whom he[sugar mill owner] mistreats (93)”. Supportive of the mita or not, both authors reveal that the indians have obligations but no rights. There is much ambiguity in this text thus a blur between enchained and voluntary labour exists.

Because Antonio is in a position of power, appointed from the Church, his relationship with the mill and mine owners is complacent. He never enters the mines and reports from above groud only. Antonio and the Church's...
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