The Spaniards first went to Mexico looking for slaves to replace the millions of natives of the Antilles who had died from disease and overwork in the gold placers. We will never know how many young men were rounded up along the coast from Yucatán to Tamaulipas and shipped to Cuba and Santo Domingo, but most of those who stayed behind in the tropical lowlands soon died from Old World diseases. There is no doubt that the superposition of European diseases and religious and political institutions were catastrophic, but Guy Stresser-Péan points out that the people of Mesoamerica were no strangers to trauma. A series of invasions of more or less civilized aggressors often with superior technology (apparently the bow-and-arrow were more effective than the atlatl ) swept through his area, enslaving women and children and subjecting male prisoners to horrendous forms of...

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