The Colonial Elite

monedas antiguasWith the use of all the free labor force and consequent exploitation of the gold-bearing deposits, the gains taken from Hispaniola in those years reached the official amount of 445,266 gold ducats that arrived in Seville between 1503 and 1505, which according to calculations of some authors, and according to Las Casas, establishes that the annual income surpassed 450,...Castilians (around 1,360,000 dollars annually. During the last two years of Ovando's administration a kind of autocracy developed, made up of colonial bureaucrats that managed a great part of the gains being beneficiaries of the governor and given more lands and Indians.

In the possessions of these large encomendados, the Indians were grouped in work gangs supervised by three or four foremen or miners. Another amount was designated to farming the estates or caring for livestock, that had, by this time, multiplied exponentially with virgin pastures and without demographic competition with other mammals of its size. Since the miners generally received 10% of the gold acquired by their gang, not only were they always indifferent to the conservation Indian life, but even intensified the work to the most extremes imaginable, pushing the demographic catastrophe recently initiated to a galloping rhythm.