What is the Hacienda System?

A hacienda refers to a form of large landed property systems that originated in Spanish America during the colonial period and functioned as a traditional institution of rural life. The Haciendas were originally for-profit companies owned by fazenderos. The Spanish crown began to grant lands to the haciendas to the Spanish conquistadores (those soldiers or explorers of Spain responsible for the colonization of new lands in the name of the Spanish crown). Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador, was one of the first fazenderos to be granted land in 1529 in what is now part of present-day Mexico. Soon, many other conquistadorsland was granted from the crown. In later years, many ordinary Spaniards of more modest means and stations also appealed to the crown for such land ownership rights. The encomenderos (Spaniards charged with protecting a specific group of Native Americans in exchange for a free service from the natives) would often buy land or businesses for themselves and the practice of exploiting these indigenous peoples for forced labor on such lands to reap economy the benefits became common. These encomenderos thus also became fazenderos and, even after the elimination of the encomienda system by the crown, the fazenderoshe continued to recruit free labor to work on their property, where crops like sugar, wheat, fruit and vegetables were grown. Sometimes, the term “hacienda” was used more widely to refer to those ranch lands granted to people in Latin America where animal agriculture was practiced and, even less frequently, to those that involved the production, mining and other non-agricultural efforts. in.

The decay of Haciendas in South America

The hacienda system that originated in South America is currently almost non-existent. The system prospered during the colonial period, but gradually faded as independent countries emerged in the region towards the beginning of the 19th century. In the Dominican Republic, the large properties of the hacienda system have been divided into smaller ones, often owned by subsistence farmers in the region. In some other countries, however, the hacienda system took longer to disappear. In Mexico, the system was abolished in 1917 after the Mexican revolution of 1911. In Bolivia and Peru, revolutions and influential leaders helped to eliminate the hacienda system from these countries.

The survival of Haciendas in the Philippines

In the Philippines, during the Spanish colonial rule, the encomienda system gradually evolved into the hacienda system. Spanish, mixed Spanish and native families and other elites in the region enjoyed exclusive rights over vast areas of fertile lands and exploited native Filipino workers to work on their lands to their advantage at the expense of the locals. Unlike the abolition of the hacienda system in South American countries after their independence, this system continued to exist in the Philippines even after the country became independent in 1946. The fazenderosit then became even more openly powerful and constituted the new aristocracy of the independent country. Several agrarian reforms were introduced in the Philippines in subsequent years to standardize the distribution of land between landless peasants and wealthy landowners, but so far no total success has been achieved. Ramon Magsaysay’s Philippine presidency is worthy of mention, as during his tenure many landless farmers in the Philippines received land ownership. The division between rich and poor in the Philippines based on land ownership, however, continues to haunt this island nation.

The end of the Haciendas in Puerto Rico

Like its neighboring neighbors, Puerto Rico, an insular territory of the United States in the Caribbean, has also suffered the effects of colonial rule in the form of the exploitative hacienda system, along with other manipulative forms of the Spanish “civilization”. The haciendas of coffee and sugar were the most commonly seen in this country. The hacienda system began to decline significantly from the 1950s onwards, when the massive waves of industrialization of Puerto Rico through the Bootstrap operation shifted many of its coffee haciendas. In fact, by the end of the 20th Century, the hacienda system was on the verge of disappearance in Puerto Rico.

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