Reading about the Spanish Conquest of Mesoamerica in the early XVI Century is a fascinating experience. One of the most remarkable stories is that of Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, who almost singlehandedly engineered the institutional defense of the Indians as human beings and subjects of the Spanish Crown. De Las Casas was witty and extremely eloquent. He argued convincingly for many years in favor of better treatment for the Indians.

In one such meeting, in October of 1519, where King Charles I of Spain (Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire) was to hear the arguments on what to do with the Indians, Bishop Juan de Quevedo, who had just returned from five years in the Darién [in what is now Panama], quoted the Philosopher Aristotle as saying that "the Indians are slaves by nature." Never short of a response, de Las Casas countered that since Aristotle was a nonbeliever, he was presumably burning in Hell, so his argument held no ground.1

Such were the events that shaped the history of Latin America.

 1 Thomas, Hugh. 2005. Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan. Random House, New York.

The Virgin and Child, at the Church of Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca, Mexico

The Virgin and Child, at the Church of Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca, Mexico.