The Political Economy of Smuggling: Regional Informal Economies in Early Bourbon New Granada

By Lance Grahn | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
IMPERIAL THEORY AND AMERICAN REALITY: THE CONTEXT OF SMUGGLING IN NEW GRANADA, 1713-1763

After Christopher Columbus returned to Spain in 1493, the Catholic monarchs acted quickly to preserve the Indies as a royal and exclusively Spanish domain. Subsequent kings pursued that ideal for the next three centuries but, in practice, they failed to realize it in the northern provinces of the New Kingdom of Granada. Some circum- Caribbean Indian groups, such as the Guajiros and Cunas of Tierra Firme, never succumbed in the long term to the Spanish conquest and, from the mid-sixteenth century onward, European rivals of Spain penetrated the New World in an effort to appropriate a share of American bounty. As a result, imperial activity in the Caribbean basin was both culturally and nationally diverse. More specifically, intercultural and international contacts in the southern Caribbean assumed geopolitical and commercial significance and became the focus of bitter European political and economic rivalries.1

Throughout the colonial era but especially in the early Bourbon period, the northern coast of New Granada was one of the most important foci of this international contestation in the Atlantic world (Figure 2.1). The challenges began there while the colony was in its

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1
John Campbell, A Concise History of the Spanish America, with a new introduction by D. H. Simpson, Colonial History Series, no. 82 ( London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1972, 1741), 279; John J. TePaske, "La política española en el Caribe en los siglos xvii y xviii," in La influencia de España en el Caribe, La Florida y La Luisiana, 1500- 1800, eds. Antonio Acosta and Juan Marchena ( Madrid: Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana, 1983), 61-7.

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