Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.
(1) Was Spain advanced enough to develop new lands when Cristóbal Colón "discovered" the Americas?
(2) At the time of Cristóbal Colón's discovery, was Spain one country or two?
(3) Was Spain's general inefficiency a good thing or bad thing?
(4) What alternative did the Blacks who were shipped to the Caribbean as slaves make Cubans aware of that increased their ability to fight against Spain?
Class #6 Essay [Audio Version]
Spain was a backward country when Cristóbal Colón tripped over the new world, but so was all of Europe. Worse still, all of Europe was a cesspool of economic, political and social immorality. Greed was the order of the period, and economic, political and religious warfare were the preferred tools of those who were the greediest and least deserving.
But Spain was worse off structurally than the other major European countries. In fact, Spain was not one country but two; Aragon, governed by King Ferdinand, and Castile, governed by Queen Isabel. Aragon and Castile had separate laws, separate representative bodies, separate social organization, etc., -- and neither had to answer to the other. Most importantly, neither Castile nor Aragon had a developing merchant class. Whereas the merchant classes in countries like England, Holland, and France were pushing their countries toward higher degrees of economic and political efficiency, Spain was stuck in the old way of economizing, governing and warring. Thus, when Cristóbal Colón claimed the new world for Spain, Spain did not have an infrastructure evolving that could do the best job of exploiting the new territories.
However, whether Spain's lack of development was good or bad is a matter of perspective. If Spain had been more efficient in the manner England and France were, Spain would have waged war against the Caribbean people more efficiently, abused the slaves more efficiently, profited from slave labor more efficiently, and spread the ideology of racial inferiority and superiority more efficiently. Since Spain was not as efficient as England or France might have been, the people who occupied the lands after the original Cubans had been exterminated had the opportunity to grow into themselves and become a distinct people with their own perspectives on color, class, government and culture. A viable alternative was all they would need to effectively fight against the biases that are typical of white power colonies and escape from Spain's control. They were made aware of such an alternative by the Black People who were shipped to the colonies as slaves.
It is historically noteworthy that four African slaves were brought to Cuba in 1513.
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