Veins: Part I- Mankind’s Poverty as a Consequence of the Wealth of the Land

1. Lust for Gold, Lust for Silver

The Sign of the Cross on the Hilt of the Sword
  • America not only lacked a name. The Norwegians did not know they had discovered it long ago, and Columbus himself died convinced that he had reached Asia by the western route (11).
  • (Columbus visits Natives) They knew nothing of sword, and when these were shown to them they grasped the sharp edges and cut themselves. (13.)
  • This in the 1490s, maybe I could introduce Colombus first arrival and the awe and wonder of the islands, lead into European scramble, Spanish conquest, what they found, what they wanted to find, what it was used for is this too in-depth? The Natives what about them, are these the Maya? Yes I think so, maybe, maybe not Natives are very advanced, organized, there is genocide.
  • In the Middle Ages a small bag of pepper was worth more than a man’s life, but gold and silver were the keys used by the Renaissance to open the doors of paradise in heaven and of capitalist mercantilism on earth (14).
  • Also a key to heaven for some. Opulence was the end for the Spaniards. The beginning of however I can explain capitalist mercantilism in simpler terms on earth. Its not trading thats been around forever and its not industrialization, is it? Influences industrialization, capitalist…..mercantilism…merchants. Mercantilism is an economic theory and practice common in Europe from the 16th to the 18th century that promoted governmental regulation of a nation’s economy for the purpose of augmenting state power at the expense of rival national powers. It was the economic counterpart of political absolutism.[1] It includes a national economic policy aimed at accumulating monetary reserves through a positive balance of trade, especially of finished goods. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from the 16th to late-18th centuries.[2] Mercantilism was a cause of frequent European wars and also motivated colonial expansion. ( page updated 9 March 2014.)
  • The myth of El Dorado, the golden king, was born: golden were the streets and houses of his kingdom’s cities (14)…(in search of El Dorado was a century after Columbus.)
  • Antillean Holocaust, interpreted by historian (mid 16th Century) Fernandez de Oviedo, ” Many of them, by way of diversion, took poison rather than work, and others hanged themselves with their own hands” (5 in Galeano’s notes) (page 15 in open veins).
  • The Gods Returned With Secret Weapons
  • The treaty of Tordesillas, signed in 1494, allowed Portugal to occupy Latin American territories below a dividing line traced by Pope, and in 1530 Martim Affonso de Sousa founded the first Portuguese communities in Brazil, expelling French intruders. By then the Spaniards, crossing an infinity of hellish jungles and hostile deserts, had advanced far in the process of exploration and conquest (16). This treaty was mentioned in the beginning of the elementary latin history book but was not in detail. This is the expansion of that. So I’ve got the beginning with the Aztec, Maya, Inca, leading into the Spanish Conquest, the Native American extermination (the beginning/the first one), then this treaty that gives Spain the one half and Portuguese the other. I’m not sure which is which.
  • 1522 the eighteen survivors of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition retired to Spain: They had for the first time united both oceans and confirmed that the world was round by circling it (16).
  • 1523 Pedro de Alvarado launched the conquest of Central America (16.)
  • Francisco Pizarro, an illiterate pig-breeder, triumphantly entered Cuzco in 1533 and seized the heart of the Inca empire.1540 Pedro de Valdivia – founded Santiago de Chile (16).  Three dates and explorers as examples of the beginning of the conquest
  • More messangers arrived: “He was very alarmed by the report of how the cannon exploded, how its thunder reverberated, and how it went off, a sort of stone ball came from its entrails and it rained fire.” (17)
  • The strangers sat on “deer as high as rooftops” (17). Native American eyes on conquistadores.
  • Bacteria abd viruses were the most effective allies. The Europeans brought the, like biblical plagues, smallpox & tetanus, various lung, intestinal and general diseases, trachoma, typhus, leprosy, yellow fever and teeth-rotting caries (18). (Disease had a huge role in killing the natives as well as mass murders)
  • Just how many: The Indians died like flies; their organisms had no defense against the new diseases. Those who survived were feeble and useless. The Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro estimates that more than half the aboriginal population of America, Australia, and Oceania died from the contamination of first contact with white men (18). Conquistadors are here in Latin America, this is consequence, many more to come, conquest has begun.
"They crave gold like hungry swine"
  • (about the Spaniards when they came upon gold) They lifted up the gold as if they were monkeys, with expressions of joy, as if it put new life into them and lit up their hearts. As if it were certainly something for which they yearn with great thirst (19).
  • The gallows and torture were not enough, however: the captured treasure never measured up to the Spaniards’ imagination, and for years they dug in the lake bottom searching for gold and precious objects presumably hidden by the Indians (19). (Insatiable hunger, could not be satisfied, the hunger, the lust.)
  • (What the Spaniards did with the gold they found, before selling) “They tossed all the temple’s gold into a melting pot to turn it into bars: the laminae that covered the walls, the marvelous representations of trees, birds , and other objects in the garden” (10 in Galeano’s notes) Page 20- unsure of who is quoted here.
The Silver Cycle: The Splendors of Potosi
  • In Potosi, silver built temples and palaces, monasteries, and gambling dens; it prompted tragedies and fiestas, led to the spilling of blood and wine, fired avarice, and unleashed extravagance and adventure (20). (all the things that came about with Potosi, with silver, with silver found-we are about to learn what happened).
  • A new census in 1650 gave Potosi  a population of 160,000. It was one of the world’s biggest and richest cities, ten times bigger than Boston- at a time when New York had not even begun to  call itself by that name (21) (We are talking about silver. Silver was all over Latin America but Potosi was where it was AT. Here’s the beginning.)
  • In 1545 (So the century before) the Indian Huallpa, running in pursuit of an escaped llama, had to pass the night on Cerro. It was intensely cold and he lit a fire. By its light he saw a white and shining vein–pure silver. (so that was how it was found, and so what? well, this) Spanish avalanche unleashed. Wealth flowed like water. (21) (and more to follow).
  • (This is a long one, its about the riches and splendor in potosi, if you didn’t believe it before -this is wealth beyond imaginable. It is not like the wealth of today. It was said they drowned in their decadence, but how beautiful that must have been to see, if one was wealthy, of course. if opulence wasn’t the end it was the end of Potosi. but before the Potosi goes downhill I have to show its extravagance, then there’s the economics: none of the silver entered the Spanish economy, once in England, it was going to many other places. Silver was sold out before it touched European soil.) “By the beginning of the 17th Century it had thirty-six magnificently decorated churches, thirty-six gambling houses, and fourteen dance academies. Salons, theaters, and fiesta stage settings had the finest tapestries, curtains, heraldic emblazonry, and wrought gold and silver; multicolored damasks and cloths of gold hung from the balconies of houses. Silks and fabrics came from Granada, Flanders, and Calabria; hats from Paris and London; diamonds from Ceylon; precious stones from India; pearls from Panama; stockings from Naples; crystal from Venice; carpets from Persia; perfumes from Arabia; porcelain from China. The ladies sparkled with diamonds, rubies, & pearls; the gentlemen sported the finest embroidered fabrics from Holland. Bullfights were followed by tilting contests, and love and pride inspired frequent medieval-style duels with emerald-studded, gaudily plumed helmets, gold filigree saddles & stirrups, Toledo swords, and richly caparisoned Chilean ponies. /In 1579 (still before Potosi was one of the largest cities in the world: getting there.) the royal judge Matienzo complained: “There is never a shortage of novelty, scandal, and wantoness.” Potosi had at the time 800 professional gamblers and 120 famous prostitutes, whose resplendent salons were thronged with wealthy miners. …..”(22)
  • (These next few bullets are about what was happening to the silver money and where it was going. Hint: not back to where it was from. Not into Latin America. No.) “The Crown was mortgaged. It owed nearly all of the silver shipments, before they arrived, to German, Genoese, Flemish, and Spanish bankers.” (23)
  • Silver entered Spanish economy in minimal way…..went to pay for non-spanish merchandise exported to New World…ended in hands of Fuggers -needed money to finish St. Peter’s, & Other big moneylenders....(this guy, that guy, and him over there by the soda fountain.) (23-24)
  • A late 17th Century (now Potosi is really flourishing) document tells us that Spanish controlled only 5 percent of the trade with “its” overseas colonial possessions, despite the juridical mirage of its monopoly: almost a third of the total was in Dutch and Flemish hands, a quarter belonged to the French, the Genose controlled over one-fifth, the English over one-tenth, and the Germans somewhat less. Latin America was a European business. (24) (If I could have a thesis that’s the same as a sentence in the book I was doing a report on- this would be it: Latin America was a European business.)
  • The Distribution of Functions Between Horseman and Horse
  • (Getting into some things I don’t quite understand- “Spirit of Enterprise” and expropriation. These next few bullets should explain and talk about how Latin American had all the resources in the wolrd- but got none of them. Spain is in economic turmoil at this point; people are fleeing the country, there are beggars everywhere, unemployment etc. Then I will lead into fall of Potosi as that’s what Galeano is going to do in his book. )“Plunder, internal and external, was the most important means of primitive accumulation of capital, an accumulations which, after the middle ages, made possible a new historical stage in world economic evolution. As the money economy extended, more and more social strata and regions of the world became involved in unequal exchange.” (28)
  • ………some facts that may be important but I’m not including…..maybe go back to…..
  • stimulated the “spirit of enterprise,” and directly financed the establishment of manufactures, which in turn gave a strong thrust  to the Industrial Revolution (28.)
  • But at the same time the formidable international concentration of wealth for Europe’s benefit prevented the jump into accumulation of industrial capital in the plundered areas: “The double tragedy of the developing countries consists in the fact that they were not only victims of that process of international concentration, but that subsequently they have had to try and compensate for their industrial backwardness– that is, realize the primitive accumulation of industrial capital—in a world flooded with articles manufactured by an already mature industry, that of the West. (28-29) (15 in Galeano’s notes) (that stuff was kind of confusing wasn’t it, all this “primitive accumulation,” what IS that.
  • The Latin American Colonies were discovered, conquered, and colonized within the process of the expansion of commercial capital (29) (An even BETTER thesis! If I had come up with it myself).
  • Neither Spain nor Portugal received the benefits of the sweeping advance of capitalist mercantilism, although it was their colonies that substantial supplied the gold and silver feeding this expansion. (29)(Check about those industrial revolution dates, its this time, but to be sure.)
  • BOURGEOISIE: Got it, took control of cities. founded banks. produced merchandise. exchanged merchandise. opened markets. capital is moving and this silver, this gold, is what’s stimulating the move. The capital couldn’t move without it. Without the capital, the industrial revolution couldn’t happen. (OMG is that true…?)
  • Gold, silver, sugar: the colonial economy, supplying rather than consuming, was build in terms of–and at the service of the European market. (29)( suppling rather than consuming- that’s very important, and a theme that will show up in every chapter, with coffee, with sugar, rubber, gold, oil, stones, bananas, wood- they had it all-)
  • The resources flowed out so that emergent European nations across the ocean could accumulate them (29) (This is just how History goes. Im sitting here, wishing it was Latin America who got to do this to Europe in stead of the other way around, but then again, what does Europe have? It wasn’t blessed with riches.)
  • (If there is a winner, there must be a loser. And there is always a winner. And there is always a loser.)
  • Econmenderos* (31- if needed definition) Mid 17th C. Peru capital amassed by them. 
  • .The chief aim of those Spaniards who received Latin American mines, lands, and Indians from the King was to extract a surplus to send to Europe. (16 galeano notes) (30).
  • This observation helps explain the ultimate goal of the Latin American colonial economy from its inception: although it showed some feudal characteristics , it functioned at the service of capitalism developing elsewhere. (**good point to expand on**) (30)
  • Nor, indeed, can the existence of wealthy capitalist centers in our own time be explained without the existence of poor and subjected outskirts. : the one and the other make up the same system. (30)
  • One french economist argues that Latin America’s worst colonial legacy, which explains its backwardness today, is lack of capital. (17 galeano’s notes) (30) But all historical evidence shows that the colonial economy produced bountiful wealth for the classes connected internally with the colonial system of domination.The labor that was abundantly available for nothing or practically nothing, and the great European demand for Latin American products—– (30)
  • The capital that stayed in Latin, (this shows what the capital that stayed in Latin America was put towards, was used for, and was this a shit decision or maybe a good one. We see later.) after the lion’s share went into the primitive accumulation process of European capitalism, did not generate a process similar to that which took placed in Europe, where the foundations of industrial development were laid. It was diverted instead into the construction of great palace and showy churches, into the purchase of jewels and luxurious clothing and furniture, into the maintenance of flocks of servants, and into the extravagance of fiestas. To an important extent this surplus was also immobilized in the purchase of new lands, or continued to revolve around speculative commercial activities. (31)
  • The Silver Cycle: The Ruin of Potosi
  • Here is something that someone named Andre Gunder Frank illustrates—the regions now must underdeveloped and poverty-stricken are those which in the past had had the closest links with the metropolis and had enjoyed periods of boom. (20 Galeano’s notes) Having once been the biggest producers of goods exported to Europe, or later to the United States, and the richest sources of capital, they were abandoned by the metropolis when for this or that reason business sagged. Potosi is the outstanding example of this (31,32.)  (Here we are driving home why Potosi is so important to include in the historical explanation of pillage, plunder and exploitation.)
  • In our time Potosi is a poor city in a poor Bolivia: “the city which has given most to the world and has the least,” as an old Potosian lady, enveloped in a mile of alpaca shawl, told me when we talked on the Andalusian patio of her two-century-old house. (32)
  • Miners still enter old mines that are not flooded, carbide lamps in hand, bodies crouching, to bring out whatever there is. Of silver there is none. Not a glint of it: the Spaniards even swept out the seams with brooms. (Illustrates at length what Potosi has left to live on, with: nothing.) (33)
  • A few other churches still function as best they can: it is at least a century and a half since Potosians had the money to burn candles. (34)
  • In the era of splendor the miners made princely donations to churches and monasteries and sponsored sumptuous funerals, all solid silver keys to the gates of heaven. (34)
  • The Potosian old lady, attached to her city, tells me that the rich left first and then the poor: in four centuries the population has decreased threefold. (35)
  • In happier times there were people who could buy anything up to the title of prince. (36)
  • Only ghosts of the old wealth haunt Potosi and Sucre. In Huanchaca, another Bolivian tragedy, Anglo-Chilean capitalists in the past century stripped veins of highest-grade silver more than two yards wide; all that remains is dusty ruin. (36)
  • On the basis of Alexander von Humbolt’s figures in his already cited Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, the economic surplus drained from Mexico between 1760 and 1809—barely half a century—through silver and gold exports has been estimated at some 5 billion present day dollars. (23) (36, Galeano)
  • Capital, far from accumulating, was squandered. There was a saying: “Father a merchant, son a gentleman, grandson a beggar.” (37)(Silver cities: that the book looks at: Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Sucres, Potosi)
  • Of the fifty mines once exploited in the Guanajuato distric only two remain today. The population of the beautiful city does not grow, but tourists flock there to view the exuberant splendor of old times.” (37)
  • Half the families in Gunanajuato state average more than five members and live today in one-room hovels. (37)
    A Flood of Tears and Blood: And Yet the Pope Said Indians Had Souls
  • The monarch added that Indians were bought and sold; that they slept in the open air; and that mothers killed their children to save them from the torture of the mines. (250) (38, Galeano)
  • Latin American silver and gold as Engels put it—penetrated like a corrosive acid through all the pores of Europe’s moribund feudal society, and, for the benefit of nascent mercantilist capitalism, the mining entrepreneurs turned Indians and black slaves into a teeming “external proletariat” of the European economy. (38)
  • The fiction of legality protected the Indian; the reality of ecomienda of service, and from this to the encomienda of tribute and the regime of wages, variants in the Indian labor force’s juridical condition made only superficial changes in the real situation. (39)
  • In three centuries Potosi’s Cerro Rico consumed 8 million lives. The Indians, including women and children, were torn from their agricultural communities and driven to the Cerro. Of every ten who went up into the freezing wilderness, seven never returned. Luis Capoche, and owner of mines and mills, wrote that “the roads were so covered with people that the whole kingdom seemed on the move.” In their communities the Indians saw “many afflicted women returning without husbands and with many orphaned children” and they knew that “a thousand deaths and disasters” awaited them in the mines. The Spaniards scoured the countryside for hundreds of miles for labor. (39)
  • The Indians went into the depths “and it is common to bring them out dead or with broken heads and legs, and in the mills they are injured every day.” The mitayos hacked out the metal with picks and then carried it up on their shoulders by the light of a candle. Outside the mine they propeeled the heavy wooden shafs in the mill or melted the silver on a fire after grinding and washing it. (40)
  • Because of the smoke from the ovens there were no pastures or crops for a radius of twenty miles around Potosi and the fumes attacked men’s bodies no less relentlessly. (41)
    The Militant Memory of Tupac Amaru
  • The Mayas were great astronomers, measuring time and space with astonishing precision, and discovered the value of the figure zero before any other people in history. The Aztecs irrigation works and artificial islands dazzled Cortes—even though they were not made of gold./The conquest shattered the foundations of these civilazations. The installation of a mining economy had direr consequences than the fire and sword of war. (43)
  • The mines required a great displacement of people and silocated agricultural communities; they not only took countless lives through forced labor, but also indirection destroyed the collective farming system. (43)
  • The Indians were taken to the mines, were forced to submit to the service of the encomenderos, and were made to surrender for nothing the lands which they had to leave or neglect. (43)
  • Four and a half centuries after the Conquest only rocks and briars remain where roads had once united an empire. (43)
    Ouro Preto, The Potosi of Gold
  • The gold fever which is still sentencing Amazonian Indians to death or slavery is no novelty in Brazil.(51)
  • “Here the gold was a forest,” says the beggar one meets today, his eyes scanning the church towers. “There was gold on the sidewalks, it grew like grass.” He is is seventy-five years old now and considers himself part of the folklore in Mariana, the mining town where, as in nearby Ouro Preto, the clock has simply stopped. “Death is certain, the hour is uncertain—everyone has his time marked in the book,” the beggar tells me. He spits on the stone steps and shakes his head: “They had more money than they could count,” he says, as if he had seen them. “They didn’t know where to put it, so they built churches one next to the other.” (51)**Bandeirante (51)
  • As had happened in Potosi, Ouro Preto devoted itself to squandering its sudden wealth. (53)
  • A religious festival in 1733 lasted over a week. There were not only processions on foot, on horseback, and in triumphal mother-of-pearl, silk, and gold chariots, with fantastic costumes and dazzling settings, but there were equestrian tournaments, bullfights, and dancing in the streets to the sound of flutes, flageolets, and guitars. (53)
  • The slaves spent their strength and their days in the gold-washing installations. (53)
  • Disease was a blessing from heaven because it meant the approach of death. (54)
  • The gold explosion not only increased the importation of slaves, but absorbed a good part of the black labor from the sugar and tobacco plantations elsewhere in Brazil, leaving them without hands. (54)
  • By the middle of the eighteenth century many miners had gone to look for diamonds in Serra do Frio. The crystalline stones the gold hunters had tossed aside while exploring the riverbeds had turned out to be diamonds; Minas Gerais had both diamonds and gold in equal quantities. The booming camp of Tijuco became the center of the diamond district and there, as in Our Preto, the wealthy sported the latest European fashions, bringing luxurious clothes, weapons, and furniture fromThe gold began to flow just when Portugal signed the Methuen Treaty with England in 1703. The treaty crowned a long series of privileges obtained by British merchants in Portugal. across the ocean for their hour of delirium and dissipation. (55)
What Brazilian Gold Contributed to Progress in England.
  •  (55)
  • The gold boom, which brought a host of Portuguese to Mina Gerais, sharply stimulated the colonial demand for industrial products and at the same time provided the means to pay for them. Just as Potosi silver rebounded off Spanish soil, Minas Gerais gold only reached Portugal in transit. The metropolis became an intermediary. In 1755 the Marquie de Pombal, Portugal’s prime minister, tried to revive a protectionist policy, but it was too late. (56)
  • He declared the the English had conquered Portugal without the trouble of conquest, that they were supplying two-thirds of its needs, and that British agents controlled the whole of Portuguese trade (56).
  • Portugal was producing almost nothing , and the wealth brought by gold was so illusory that even the black slaves who mined it were clothed by the British. (56)
  • (I’m not getting much on Minas Gerais. or Gold. Or what any of this means. Just that the British scooped it up before Portugese had a chance. But the British live 2000 miles away so how is it possible? Conquest. Pillage. Plunder. Politics. Economy. Trade. Secrets. One of those, maybe two. )

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