Spain did not seem able to cope with its empire and had found itself in trouble with regards to mining which was at the centre of political and social systems, the military and the empire’s economic activity. By 1600, mining which was integral to Spain’s prosperity and growth, was under a huge amount of pressure. This pressure was caused by labour shortages, the rising costs of production and finally, as a result of mining being a finite source, the exhaustion of supply became a problem. If managed correctly the latter point should not have caused a problem however, the mining industry at that time was mostly privately owned with the state having hardly any control apart from the taxes it charged. The mining crisis hit the Americas severely, with Mexico feeling the full force of the decline in mining activity, leading it head first into a recession between the 1570s and 1670s. The main features of the recession in Mexico was a large decline in labour, leading to labour rationing or ‘repartimiento’ and subsequently a decline in the food supplies within the cities and mining centres. Although there was a recession within the Americas as a whole, not all countries suffered in the same way that Mexico did. An example of this was in Potosí, Peru which had become a focal point for Spain as it was the richest colonial centre after the 156...
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...seized this opportunity to claim independence and by the time Spain had overthrown Joseph Bonaparte in 1813, the majority of their former colonies had all gained autonomy. However, once the Spanish American colonies had gained independence, they all failed to unite leading to a reduction in inter-colonial trade and each area went their separate ways leading to economic, social and political problems within these countries.
The Penguin History of Latin America – Edwin Williamson
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