Guatemala 1530-1648

Pangan, 1530: Beginning of the Tribute from the Annals of the Cakchiquel 


Death of Pedro Alvarado

During this year heavy tribute was imposed. Gold was contributed to Tunatiuh [Pedro Alvarado]; 400 men and 400 women were delivered to him to be sent to wash gold. All the people extracted the gold. Four hundred men and 400 women were contributed to work in Pangan on the construction of the city, by order of Tunatiuh. Al this we ourselves saw, oh, my sons!

-Jonathan Fried, et al., ed., Guatemala in Rebellion: Unfinished History, 15

Guatemala, 1560: The Plague


Plague victims

An anonymous Cakchiquel historian is shivering while writing. Fever overtakes the body, the enormity of destruction overtakes the mind. Both cause the body to quake. Writing it down… to remember…

Little by little it arrived here. In truth a fearful death fell on our heads… Many families [succumbed] to the plague. Now the people were overcome by intense cold and fever, blood came out of the noses, then came the cough growing worse and worse, the neck was twisted, and small and large sores broke out on them. The disease attacked everyone here. On the day of Circumcision [January 1, 1560], a Monday, while I was writing, I was attacked by the epidemic.

-Jonathan Fried, et al., ed., Guatemala in Rebellion: Unfinished History, 15-16

Kingdom of Guatemala, 1648: The System of Repartimiento

In the 1540’s and 1550’s, the Dominicans removed the indigenous from their traditional homes and nearer to the Spanish settlements. In this way it was easier to use them for repartimiento labor. Thomas Gage, a Dominican friar, writes a century later what this “cheap and lazy way” of colonial living has done to the native population:

It would grieve a Christian’s heart to see how by some cruel Spaniards in that week’s service those poor wretches are wronged and abused [Indians were partitioned or “shared” by the week]; some visiting their wives at home, whilst their poor husbands are digging and delving; others whipping them for their slow working; others wounding them with their swords, or breaking their heads for some reasonable and well grounded reason in their own behalf; others stealing from their tools; others cheating them of half; others of all their wages…


-Jonathan Fried, et al., ed., Guatemala in Rebellion: Unfinished History, 21

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