We explain what colonial trade was and why it was so important. Also, what are its general characteristics and consequences.
Colonial trade is understood to be the dynamics of exchange of goods and resources that is established between a hegemonic power center or metropolis, and its dependent settlements or colonies. This occurs within the framework of a colonial economy.
At the time of European Imperialism, the great powers of Europe (especially Spain , Portugal, Great Britain, Germany and France ) settled on the territory of other countries. Thus they imposed a political, social, economic and even cultural system that favored the relationship of dependency with respect to the metropolis.
The trade colonial consisted mainly of extraction of natural resources of the region settled in favor of the colonizer. It used to be accompanied by rules and restrictions that always favored the colonizing state. In addition, it was the scene of numerous ethnic exchanges.
There was a whole culture of mediators, since the colonized territories were always considered sources of easy and immediate wealth , both for colonizers and for others who wanted to take advantage of the situation. Such is the case, for example, of the famous pirates of the Caribbean.
Although this is mainly about what happened in America , colonial trade also developed in Africa and Asia .
Spain, Great Britain, and a few other countries in Europe were some of the world's greatest colonizers.
An entire continent was divided between them in the 16th century: America.
The following century was characterized by the inevitable war of conquest, faced with the resistance of the American aboriginal nations to the imperial expansionist project.
This is how the American colonies were born , both in North America and in Hispanic America . There the conquerors founded cities with the names of their European cities.
In addition, they imposed a caste system (especially in what would become Latin America ) that differentiated citizens based on their race. Whites were the ruling elite, Native Americans were serfdom, and black Africans, brought in under monstrous conditions to do forced labor, were slaves .
In the case of the colonies of America, those belonging to the kingdom of Spain were the majority and covered more territory: from the territory of the current southern states of the United States to the Río de la Plata and its surroundings.
Despite this commercial advantage in the extraction of American natural resources and their shipment to Europe, Spain did not sustain its power in the long term. In fact, the Spanish colonization had a marked religious spirit.
Simultaneously, in Europe a counter-reformist spirit reigned that tried to reverse the effects of the rise of the Protestant church . For this reason, much of the gold mined from the Americas was invested in churches and temples in Spain and other Catholic nations.
Colonial trade had a markedly extractive spirit . This means that the natural resources coveted in Europe were exploited on American soil . Among them were:
The Spanish crown dictated all trade measures with its colonies. In addition, it sent its ambassadors to positions of power in the American territories and maintained military control.
The laws dictated by the metropolis assured Spain a commercial monopoly with America . This prohibition to trade with other European nations or even with other colonies, prevented them from receiving better income.
There was a system of galleons and merchant ships in continuous travel between both continents , guarded by warships, in charge of transporting and preventing smuggling.
When this revolution definitively changed the world economy , the colonizing states were generally in advantageous positions, even after losing their colonies. On the contrary, most of the colonies were devastated by looting.
On the other hand, laws dictated from the hegemonic center of colonial power, ignored the needs of the population of the other continent . Thus, a series of unfair arrangements were established that were the true ones responsible for lighting the independence fuse.
When Napoleonic troops defeated Ferdinand VII, the white American elites saw an opportunity to proclaim their sovereignty . Thus began the American Independence Wars.
These corsairs had a privateering license, that is, legal permission from other governments to use their territories and assault the Spanish trade routes. They kidnapped, robbed and murdered without any evidence of who had done it.
This illicit activity was also practiced by real pirates , that is, by thieves and mercenaries who served no one, except for their own interests. They ravaged American coastal cities, European trade routes, and sold captured resources to the highest bidder.
However, the fleet and galleon system that prevailed during the previous century was maintained. However, since 1748 a rigorous vessel registration system was implemented to prevent smuggling, known as the Registration Vessel System.
The first countries to proclaim their independence were Mexico , Argentina, and Venezuela . The last were Cuba and Puerto Rico , fallen under US rule in the Spanish-American War.
Many of them, unfortunately, suffered the consequences of colonialism and joined modernity with difficulties, delays and in little condition to compete commercially with their former masters.
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