This article argues for the importance of an ethnological hermeneutics in the study of the early colonial period in the Caribbean. It does so by applying this methodology to a founding document concerning early colonial encounters on the island of San Juan or present-day Puerto Rico. The 1532 probanza of Juan González is privileged as a text through which crucial information concerning the Spanish colonization of San Juan and its original inhabitants could be obtained. The article thus contextualizes the probanza as part of a genre of colonial writing within the amply known relaciones de méritos y servicios.

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