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The short account of the Destruction of the Indies is an account written by the Spanish Dominican friar Bartolome de las Casas in 1542. It reveals details on how the Spanish inflicted injustices on the Indians of Hispaniola, the Tainos of the Caribbean, the Aztecs of Mexico and in general the natives of South America, through destruction, mistreatment and massacres they perpetrated on the indigenous people of America during the colonial times. The natives never did the Spanish any harm whatsoever on the contrary, because they believed them to have descended from the heavens and there to spread Christianity and hence meant them no harm. However, the Spaniards ignored the hospitality shown to them and in contrast opted to murder the people on such a vast scale purely and simply as a result of their greed for gold, gems and slavery-to provide cheap labor back at home. Despite having proclaimed themselves as catholic Christians travelling to South America to evangelize. (Casas, 2004)
It is in the Island of Hispaniola, an isle which comprise of six kingdoms, where the Spanish carried out their first violent slaughters; killing the Indian inhabitants using their swords and fire. Those who survived were subjected to hard labor in the mines and others more so the women and children were made slaves. Most sought refuge in the mountains considering how they would retaliate, but they were outnumbered and lacked suitable weapons to stage a war against these Spaniards whom they had now come to understand their mission was not from heaven, but actually a genocidal colonization. Upon realizing this, the Spaniards turned to butchering the inhabitants of the kingdoms of Hispaniola. Those who were spared had their hands half cut and made to carry letters containing messages about the situation on the ground to those hiding in the mountains.
In 1509, the Spaniards sailed to the islands of St. Joseph and Jamaica with the same purpose and design they proposed to themselves in the island of Hispaniola. They murdered and burnt people and set them on dogs just as they had done before. After destroying these two islands, they passed over to Cuba in 1511, where the proceeded with their inhuman acts. It was here a certain Cacic, named Hathney, who had fled Hispaniola urged the people to appease the Spaniards with dances used in the Cuban community to please the god of the Spaniards; in this case a cabinet full of gold and gems.
But unfortunately he was burnt alive and the other people were also murdered living the land like a desert with no people. These tyrants then went on to the province of to new Spain and the kingdom and province of Guatemala where they also killed and burnt many people through violence all in the quest for gold and gems, in the disguise of evangelical missions. The Spaniards tore apart all the kingdoms of West-Indians dividing and distributing it among themselves, not for either the honor of God or serving the king, as they falsely boasted and pretended to do. But actually, they were only stimulated by their ambitions to domineer America.
De Las Casas describes the injustices perpetrated by Pizarro and Cortez all over the Americas from Peru to Mexico, under the patronage of the flag and cross, all on behalf of God and country. The Las Casas report reveals murders that were carried out due to greed and glory created. His book became a focal piece in the creation and propagation of the so-called black legend - a tradition which depicts the Spanish empire as an exceptionally morally violent and bigoted nation in excess of reality. The genocidal colonization became a tainted revelation of evangelization that was absolute hell for the natives.
Just like in the modern world where items such as gold and gems are highly valued, the Spaniards also sought both gold and gems in South America but by using very inhuman ways. This is despite Spain being a country sufficiently furnished with the purest gold according to statistics. They went to unimaginable lengths to acquire these goods-gold, pearls and jewels. There were numerous instances where the lords and Nobles would torture and torment the natives in a bid to extort gold from them. They also stole thousands of crowns of gold at night after which they burnt down houses making those who survived to be their slaves. (Keen, 1971)
However, despite Las Casas acting like a poignant supporter of the native groups under the Spanish control, he still views them as inferior communities that are so humble, innocent and who accord the Spaniards a lot of respect and hospitality instead of waging war against them even after word spread around that they always killed people everywhere they went in their endless search for gold and slaves in the pretext of Spanish sovereignty and Christianity.
Despite the many number of years that have elapsed since the massacres of those native groups were perpetrated, the general perception of the Spaniards has not really changed that much. Just like Las Casas's regarded the Spanish methods of colonization as being very cruel and malicious, according to how he describes the events as having inflicted a great loss on the indigenous occupants of those islands, factors which contributed to the idea of the Spanish 'Black Legend' that has lasted for centuries. This served to fuel anti-Spanish hate and up to date most of the world is still of the same perception, and little has changed.