The Encomienda System: a Modern Comparison

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The Spanish crown utilized the encomienda system during its conquests and colonization of the Americas as a way to compensate those who conquered native lands, thus a tool for expanding the Spanish Empire. The encomenderos, usually conquistadors, were granted control and responsibility of the peoples they conquered and were expected to convert them to Catholicism, teach them the Spanish language, and, often least importantly, protect them from enemy tribes. In return for this protection, the natives were required to pay tribute to their encomendero through labor and valuable goods. This system created a recipe for corruption, abuse, and disaster for the native peoples, and though it began to crumble shortly after its creation, its basic strategy is still employed in many aspects of our modern lives.

The premise of the encomienda system is that it evokes natural human competition by offering reward for results. Unfortunately, this compels people to cheat the system if they are able to achieve the same results without adhering to the proper methods. In the encomienda system, encomenderos in the Americas would unnecessarily force war upon native peoples in order to obtain control and gain tribute, in turn expanding their own wealth. In our modern society here in the United States, we see similar cheating in our public education system. Teachers, instead of improving their methods to achieve results from their students, are falsifying test scores in order to keep their jobs, attain promotions, and expand their own wealth. In both cases the cheating process is uncontrollably successful due to the lack an effective monitoring system. Though not the case everywhere and with every teacher, those who do cheat the system in this way have essentially become the oppressors by failing to provide the students, who have fallen victim to this epidemic, with a sufficient education. In comparison to the encomienda system, the livelihood and prosperity of the native peoples that...
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