Reina Farji


                 The New Spain

Colonialism in Mexico started in the year 1521 when the “conquistadores” arrived at Tenochtitlan and renamed it “The New Spain”. These conquistadores were lead by Hernan Cortez a Spanish conquistador who led to the destruction of the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs had a belief that Quetzalcoatl their God who sailed in a canoe made of serpents was supposed to come back and destroy their empire in that same year that Hernan Cortez arrived. In addition the Aztecs had never seen horses and men covered in shields. Therefore the native people of Tenochtitlan saw Hernan Cortez as a “God” portraying an authoritative figure and surrounded by these unknown artifacts and resources and were fooled to believe this was Quetzalcoatl. The Spanish conquistadors took advantage of this opportunity and took over Mexico’s resources, ideals, economic system and ruled for the next three hundred years until Mexico rebelled against Spain…

In reality Mexico did not experienced slavery like all the other cases of colonialism however Pope Alexander VI the one who granted Spain the right to colonize the Americas, declared that those who would not convert to Christianity were to being enslaved. In addition to corrupting the ideology and culture of the Aztecs, Cortez gave his people encomiendas lands that belonged to the Aztecs and made the natives of these lands slaves for the new owners of the encomiendas. Moreover Spain took over Mexico’s resources such as gold, cacao and silver among others, while not giving anything in return. They also brought along many diseases to which the natives were not resistant to and died along this era such as small pox and measles. Although the conquistadores took over Tenochtitlan in a harsh way along the way the social change created the backbone of what Mexico is now a days. Since the Spanish people were extremely religious they founded schools and religious institutions that brought a more civilized and enforced a social contract among the people. Now the Aztecs didn’t sacrifice themselves and took their hearts out literality for the “Gods”. Now they had a better understanding of a real economy and had trade with other countries. They also learned Spanish, which became one of the leading languages of the world. Lastly although Tenochtitlan had social mobility the Spanish conquistadores brought a more elaborated concept of social mobility known as the caste system. Were your color, gender, religion and race marked your social status. For instance if you were a Spanish person born in Spain you were granted all kinds of privileges, then if you were full Spanish but were born in Tenochtitlan you were known as a Criollo and you were also granted many privileges but you were ranked lower than a Spanish individual who was born in Spain.. Furthermore if your mother or father happened to be an Aztec you were called a Mestizo you still had rights but they were not as influential as the ones from a full Spanish “clean blood” type of lineage. After Mestizos there was the natives and finally the “mulatos” black slaves that were traded in, to work in sugar plantations (especially in Veracruz Mexico). The last two were the most abused and exploited in the caste system.

Colonialism is a social change that transforms the ideologies and the entire social backbone of an empire or nation. Truth is society is constantly changing, those changes are inevitable and are the reason why this world that we live in has revolutionized so much.