They began rounding up people by the hundreds and shipping them back to Europe to work as slaves; the conditions of travel were so severe that approximately half died at sea. On the New World islands, the Spanish explorers forced the native inhabitants to mine for the gold that the Spanish erroneously believed was present in great quantities and they enforced ridiculously unrealistic daily quotas through barbaric means such as cutting off the hands of any Indian who failed to reach his required yield. They also routinely raped, tortured, and killed the peaceful native inhabitants, sometimes for no reason whatsoever besides their amusement. During the entire Colonial period, the European explorers eventually completely wiped out native civilizations, some of which had previously numbered in the millions.
Describe the social hierarchy of the Latin American and Caribbean colonies.
Many of the Spanish and other European explorers who were ordinary citizens in their home countries took the opportunity to establish themselves as a sort of "nobility" class in the New World, largely by the threat imposed by their superior weapon technology. Naturally, the Europeans created a social hierarchy in which they were at the top with indigenous Indians in the middle and imported African slaves at the very bottom of that hierarchy.
The fact that the Spanish conquerors also frequently intermarried with native Indians complicated social hierarchies and created castas based on mixed heritage. For example, the mixed-race Mestizos occupied a social position that was above the native Indians but below the full-blooded Europeans. The same practices occurred throughout the Latin American and Caribbean islands and the other territories claimed by European…