Bolívar: American Liberator by Marie Arana:
Alongside this march of history, however, was the steady hardening of a racial hierarchy that would define South America into the modern age. It had begun when Christopher Columbus’s men had landed on Hispaniola, and imposed their will over the Taíno people. At first, Queen Isabel and the Church roundly censured the capture and massacre of Indians. Columbus’s men had committed harrowing atrocities, burning and destroying whole tribal villages, abducting natives as slaves, unleashing murderous plagues of syphilis and smallpox on the population. The priests who accompanied the crown’s “civilizing missions” made a point of recording it all. As a result, the state tried to take a strong stance against any kind of institutionalized violence. It introduced a system of encomiendas, in which Spanish soldiers were assigned allotments of Indians and, in exchange for the task of instructing them in the Christian faith, were given the right to put them to work on the land on in the mines. The soldiers were often harsh and corrupt, killing natives who did not comply with their brutal demands, and, eventually, the system of encomiendas had to be abolished. But the notion of encouraging soldiers to work the land rather than live from plunder opened the way for a new era of plantation life.