Problems With the Natives

No sooner have the 400 men descend in La Vega Real, that, at this point were more "thugs than noblemen"5, the problems with the abundant indigenous people of the area begin. The hungry Christians first take their food, "and to make the Indians comply with their orders, there were plenty of threats and slaps, and attacks with clubs, not just the common people, but the nobles and princes called nitainos, threatening even lords and kings."6

Secondly, coming from a culture where sexuality meant censure, you could say that the Spaniards went crazy over the vision of young and naked Taino women, proceeding to "take their women and daughters by force" without respect or consideration to person or dignity"7, entering, apparently, in a frenzy "without resistance to sexual delights", as criticized by Las Casas. In stead of finding and conquering the island, the first conquerors entered into an anarchist state, in which violations of moral and carnal nature were an every day happening.

On June 24th a fleet arrives from Spain carrying Columbus' younger brother Bartholomew. Both friar Boyl and Pedro Margarit return to Spain with this fleet and "arriving at the court, declare that the things in these Indies claimed by Columbus are nothing but lies and infamy, publishing that there was no gold nor anything else of value and that everything that Columbus said was a cruel joke."8

On his return from Cuba, the Admiral makes a recognizance exploration of the southern coast of Hispaniola, where he discovers the mouth of the Ozama with a much better location than the Isabella for a city. Here he also receives from the Indians information about hills of gold that could be seen from the coast, where, in fact, soon would be found the veins that yielded large quantities of gold in the mines that the Admiral named San Cristobal.

Columbus arrives to the Isabella gravely ill on September of the same year, 1494. His condition keeps him in bed for some months, naming Bartholomew governor.

Meanwhile, there had been little advance in the location and extraction of gold in the Cibao. The Central Mountain Chain contained large veins of this metal, but the terrain made it difficult to mine and the auriferous rocks difficult to find and exploit without the right equipment. Because of this, most of the gold available to the Europeans initially was the gold that came down from the mountains, deposited in the river sands and shores. The hard task of finding these deposits, and of washing sand was constantly declined by the Indians, that only used gold for body decoration and other objects, and who, with their farming system had everything they needed to live without having to work very hard.

The administration of the colonists faced the problem of manual labor: the Indians evaded working for the for the Christians, the Hidalgos maintained their resistance, and the men in the Vega Real fort, by Margarit's departure, had been left on their own, spreading throughout the area and some being eliminated by saturated Indians.