Encomienda and Slavery E-mail
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Written by Raquel L   
Encomienda was a system of slavery or enslavement introduced by the Spanish in order to control the  Tainos (arawaks). Under this system some tianos were given to a Spanish colonist to work and in return the colonist were to educate them about the Catholic religion and supply them with food, clothing and shelter. They however received none of the things they were promised, instead the received only harsh treatment in return. This system deprived the tianos of all their rights and exploited them in many ways. The Spanish took away all their social rights, they had no right to a family, their religion could not be practiced, they could no longer worship their gods and participate in their ceremonial celebrations, nothing except that what they were told to . The political rights of the Tainos were also stolen from them, before the arrival of the Spanish the Tainos were under the leadership of their Cacique, now with the coming of the Spanish the Cacique could no longer rule over his people, he had no authority, he himself became  a slave to the Spanish colonist and was forced to work . An economic way of life was no longer possible as the arawaks could not trade as they use to, fish nor hunt etc as they would before to earn a living, instead the Spanish found that were wasting their time and gave them something to do.
The work in which the Tainos did they had no knowledge about , it included them diving for pearls, rearing cattles, building churches , planting mining etc, these were all new to them and many of them could not cope with such routines. They were not given any wages  and living arrangements were very poor and unsanitary, they were overworked  and punished severely , the Spanish used them as objects for recreation, with their babies being  kicked around like foot balls.
Many resisted the Spanish some fought back, some committed suicide, some gave in to the life as a slave but many died as a result of being overworked and harsh treatment, the Spanish committed genocide on the Tainos which explains the reason for no Taions being alive today.
Slavery  was another means of enslavement used as  control , people were taken from Africa and brought to the Caribbean where they became the possessions of a white ruler (planter). Slavery began as a result of the Sugar Revolution, as the need for sugar increased, as it replaced tobacco as the main export crop in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Sugar production  needed lots and lots of labour, so the Spanish looked to Africa for the labour needed , because they were strong used to the climate in abundance and relatively cheap.
Just as the Tainos , the Africans brought here had  no rights  what’s so ever all their rights were taken away. They had no right to family life as they were always being separated as families were broken up and sold to other estates, their religion could no longer be practiced , they had no right to vote , no right to a career, all the could do was what they were told, work on the estates. The planters were to feed ,clothed and shelter the Africans but off course the received none of the above, instead they were fed improper diets and unsanitary living conditions.
The Africans were severely overworked as they had to work over fourty eight  (48) a week, women were taken advantage off by the slave masters and could  not do any thing about it, young children and old people were forced to work as well. The slaves were beaten for any thing the did that was not pleasing to the master and apart from being beaten they received no pay for their hard work, they were really exploited by the Europeans. Many resisted the Europeans, they committed suicide and infanticide , some ran away, some poisoned the masters, some destroyed equipments etc, but some seek more violent means of resistance, such as revolts and rebellions. Many died in the fight against the Europeans but after the success of the Haitian Revolution the exploitation of the Africans stopped as these slaves gain independence as the now became emancipated and were able to move away from such horrible experiences and were able to have new lives of their own.


+1 #2 Tia 2012-10-08 15:42
Thanks for the explanation it was very informative.
+1 #1 2010-11-17 12:32
The Tainos survived well into the 1900s and their mix blood descendants comprise 15% of the population in The Domincan Republic, 30% in Cuba and 61% of the population in Puerto Rico according to DNA studies done from the year 2000 to the present. These Taino descendants are recognized by many tribal goverments in North central and South America.

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