Racial Background of Latin America Essay

Published: 2020-02-04 13:20:21
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1. Discuss the racial composition (racial groups) of colonial Latin America In order to discuss the racial composition of Colonial Latin America, we must first examine the three civilizations that were present when the Europeans reached Latin America. The three civilizations present were: Mayans, Aztecs and Incans which could be considered native Indians. The people of Latin America are a mixture of racial groupings that include native Indians, white Europeans, black Africans. The central foundation of economic activity in Colonial Latin America was Indian labor. Wars, disease and the acquisition of status led to the mixing of races.

After the civil war in Mexico the ratio of men to women was greater which led to race mixing. The Mestizos were a mixture of Spanish (Spain) and Indians. Local families/Spanish seeking to ascend the socioeconomic ladder would often inter-marry to be a part of the elite status. As the Spaniards and Europeans arrived in the New World they also created a race of people called peninsulares (those that recently arrived from Spain) and Creoles (European descent but born in New World). There was some intermingling of the different racial groups but very rarely were there any interracial marriages between whites and Indians.

Whites might marry mestizos and mestizos might marry Indians. With this influx of population to the New World diseases such as small pox and influenza infiltrated and affected the indigenous population. The need for additional laborers to fill the void caused by disease turned the spotlight on the Slave Trade. The New World began importing Africans as slaves to fill the labor void. With the addition of African slaves the racial groupings diversified even more to include free blacks and mulattoes. This theme of racial mixing was the common throughout Latin America except for Brazil.

Brazil had little indigenous population, mainly semi-nomadic or cannibalistic. This meant there had to be more settlers to move to the New World and more slaves for the production of resources. By the early 19th century Africans made up almost half of the brazilian population. 2. Discuss Spanish goals, policies and administration of the colonies in Latin America. The goal of the Spanish was in part two-fold; to serve God and attain wealth with more emphasis on the later than the former. Leaders such as Cortes and Pizarro used the native Indian population to aide in their efforts to take over.

Once the Spanish take over occurred it was not long before they began incorporating their societal setup. The male ratio to women being 7 to 1 at this time led to the establishment of the Mestizo race (Spanish & Indians). The Spanish crown realized that there might be a problem with some conquerors that were sent on their behalf. So they established a political structure to keep the New World under their control. This bureaucracy consisted of a Council (Council of the Indies). The Councils organization was called the viceroyalty. It was headed by a viceroy who was appointed by the king.

The viceroyalty benefited the crown in two ways. It served as babysitter to other viceroyalties as well as its ability to disseminate authority on different levels. This system kept the colonies under rule for close to 300 years. . With the fall of Spanish rule came the establishment of Bourbon kings on the throne. The Bourbon kings wanted to strengthen royal control so they installed new reforms. In the church they expelled the Jesuit Order selling their possessions and giving proceeds to the crown. Under Charles III a decree of Free Trade was established.

This trade agreement opened up 24 ports in Spanish America so that trade could occur with any port in Spain. The reform called for the establishment of more viceroyalties, at New Granada and Rio de la Plata and established the intendancy system, which replaced the arrangement of the Hapsburgs. Intendants were local administrators and judicial officials that were responsible to the crown, not the viceroy as previously established. Intendants were Spanish-born peninsulres but not Creoles. The intendants strengthened the crowns control and seemed to be very successful as the administration, defense and commerce prospered.

Although successful, these changes caused problems with Creoles as it reduced their influence, status and eventually would led to a cry for independence. 3. Discuss some of the independence movements in Latin America In 1807 Napoleon, Frances dictator reached and occupied Portugal. In 1808 he occupied Madrid and placed his brother, Joseph on the throne. The Spaniards and Creoles did not take kindly to this appointment. They felt that since there was no Spanish government that authority should come back to the people. Most notable resistance to Napoleon was in the city of Buenos Aires.

In 1806 an English squadron occupied the city and the Viceroy escaped to Cordoba. The Creoles got together and drove out the British which showed the weakness of the crown and the strength of local citizens to unite and defend. In 1810 a priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and group of creoles plotted to overtake the provinces of New Spain in the name of Ferdinand VII. This plot was discovered but Hidalgo decided to proceed with plan to overthrow. He gave a passionate motivational speech to fight. The mixed bloods were the ones that rose to the challenge to overtake the government, instead of the Creoles that originally united with Hidalgo.

This group of mixed bloods formed an undisciplined army and overtook the city of Guanajuato and vanquished 500 spanish soldiers, civilians and the intendant. Hidalgo struggled to maintain control of the forces, which amounted to 50,000 men in arms. In November 1810, Hidalgo was outside Mexico City and made a decision to pull back his forces which led to his capture and ultimately his execution at Chihuahua. The rebellion was then passed to Jose Maria Morelos, a priest as well. Just like Hidalgo, Morelos agreed with the abolition of slavery and agrarian reform.

He believed that it was the right of citizens to choose their own form of government. He also believed in a new form of government where all persons whether Indian, mulattoe, mestizo, creoles or peninsulares would be know known as Americans thus combining social and racial equality. In 1813 the Congress of Chilpancingo declared Mexicos independence form Spain. Slavery was abolished and Catholicism the state religion. Interesting to note that in Brazil the almost opposite occurs. Instead of getting rid of elitest rule they gained the Portuguese crown.

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