The evolution of colonial labor systems from the encomienda to the free labor system

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  • Publicado : 13 de marzo de 2012
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The labor systems have been in every society since the beginning of times, but in the Americas started from the Encomienda until to what everybody is familiar with, the free or contractual labor.When the Americas was discovered the Spanish Crown passed to own the land. To control the land they created a system called the “Encomienda.” The Spanish Crown sent Spaniards that were namedencomendados who would manage the land. In those times the indios were attached to the land, so when a piece of land was encomendada, the encomendado had the absolute control over the land and the indios wholived in that land. The encomendados would only manage the land but they would not own it. This system obligated indios to work for the encomendados, in others words there was a complete lack of freelabor system.
The next labor system would be the Mita fallowed by the repartimiento. The Mita was a pre-Columbian system used by the Incas that consisted in the rotation of the laborers from one pointto another. Since the indios were attached to the land sometimes they were required to work in other local lands, so these workers would go to work somewhere else for a period of time, and then comeback to their native lands. The Spaniards used this same system, but they named it the Repartimiento. The “Repartimiento” was the evolution of the “Mita.” It was same system, but the only difference wasthat in many cases times these indios would be extracted from their land never returned back.
The Incas as well had servants that were called yanaconas. This Yanaconaje was a coercive system laborlike the other systems before. It was a social class that was hereditary as well. Their function was to serve the ayllus or to serve the Inca or the nobility.
In the colonial times, as the laborsystems were evolving it got into a point in which there was actually a free labor system. A clear example was the mines of silver in Potosi Bolivia. The rich mountain of Potosi was the biggest supplier...
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