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Discuss the impact of Iberian conquest and settlement practices on the peoples and ecologies of the Americas.

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IMPACT OF IBERIAN CONQUEST ON THE AMERICAS
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Introduction
The Iberian conquest and consequent settlement practices had a widespread impact on the people and the ecologies of the Americas. Initially, the Iberian made attempts to gain direct control of its colonies in the Americas by using a supervisory office referred to as the Council of Indies. The lack of a common language for communication between the Iberian and the new colonies created a difficult circumstance in which the viceroys of New Spain and Peru, as well as their junior officers, wielded a substantial degree of authority.
The organs of administration created by the Iberian had a high degree of development, creating expensive bureaucracies that discouraged local economic advantage and political experimentation. The Amerindians were also under the protection of the Catholic clergy from exploitation and mistreatment. An example is Bartolome de Las Casas, a previous settler who had turned priest, was sharply opposed to the policies the Iberian applied to their colonies and was committed to improving the standing of the Amerindians by advocating for legal reforms for instance the New Laws of 1542. There was increased frustration among the Catholic missionaries as the Amerindians who converted to Christianity blended Christian teachings with components of their own native religion. The Church responded by redirecting its focus toward the cities and towns under colonial rule, in which universities and secondary schools were founded by the church and which significantly improved the intellectual and economic status of the cities and towns.

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The economies under colonization in the Americas was dominated by the silver mines located in Peru and Mexico as well as the plantations of sugar found in Brazil, a situation which created dependence on the profits earned from mineral and agricultural exports. The economies of cities ruled by the Spanish controlled by the mineral sites of Bolivia and Peru up to 1680, and consequently by the silver mines in South America. The mining and processing of silver necessitated the use of a large workforce and resulted in environmental degradation such as deforestation as well as mercury poisoning. Until 1540, the Iberian rulers applied the forced-labour structure to compel the Amerindians to work on the agricultural firms, an activity that dominated the economy of cities. The Iberian devised novel ways structures of labour exploitation with the development of the silver-mining economies. For instance, in Mexico, they used devised free-wage labour and used the mita in Peru, where one-seventh of the mature Amerindians were forced to work in farms and paid less than subsistence wages. The mita scheme led to a weakening of the conventional agricultural economy and the Amerindians way of life while promoting their assimilation in the Iberian culture. The Portuguese used African slaves in sugar plantations in the Atlantic islands as well as in Brazil, which initially used Amerindian slaves but switched to the costly but more effective African slaves.
In conclusion, the Iberian conquests resulted in the erosion of the cultural diversity of the Amerindian people, further resulting in the erosion of class differentiation among the ethnic societies. A majority of the people in the Americas were subjected to forced agricultural labour and mistakes were frequently met with harsh discipline and ruthless penalties. The overpowering dominance of males made it difficult for slaves to maintain their traditional practices such as keeping a family and further led to a distortion of marriage patterns as it became easy to adopt the European way of life.
Bibliography
Arias, Santa, and Mariselle Meléndez. 2002. Mapping colonial Spanish America: places and commonplaces of identity, culture, and experience. Lewisburg, Pa: Bucknell Univ. Press.
Barreto, José-Manuel. 2013. Human rights from a Third World perspective: critique, history and international law. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=839511.
Diamond, Jared M. 2005. Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies. New York : Norton, Print.

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