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Our Lady of Guadalupe is a depiction of Mary, the mother of Jesus. To many people, she also represents aspects of indigenous faiths practiced in Mexico before the arrival of Christianity.
European colonizer publicly debated the rights and treatment of indigenous peoples. The arguments of de las Casas are seminal texts in the field of human rights, but they did little to change Spanish policy.
Asiento System An asiento was a contract between the government of Spain and either another country, a private company, or an individual. The agreement was that this other party would supply Spain with enslaved Africans to work in the Americas, and Spain would pay for this service. The Spaniards lacked a base in Africa and found it easier to contract this process. Historians estimate that 450,000 Africans were captured and forced to go to the Americas as part of this system from the late 16th century to 1750.
South America Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513. He was the first European to reach the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Spain then became interested in the western coast of South America. Conquistador Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475–1541) arrived in the region in 1530 and found the Inca Empire in a weakened condition. European disease had already killed a large proportion of the population, including the emperor. The empire then became embroiled in civil war and Pizarro took advantage of the situation. With his force of fewer than 200 men and his superior weapons, he defeated the Inca and took control of their capital.
Within five years, Pizarro established a new Spanish capital in Lima that governed Peru, the part of the empire covering much of western South America. The Spanish used a similar system to control the indigenous population and extract wealth as they had in New Spain.
The Pacific A Portuguese explorer sailing for the Spanish named Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521) set out in 1519 to explore the eastern coast of South America and the Pacific Ocean. Magellan and his crew survived the storm-ravaged straits at the southern tip of South America and headed west. Because of the lack of wind to push them westward, they nearly starved to death on the voyage. But in 1521, they reached the islands later named the Philippines after the Spanish king Phillip II. Magellan died while on the islands, but one of his ships continued the voyage across the Indian Ocean and around Africa. It completed the first voyage around the world.
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