Rainbow Countries of Central America

By Wallace Thompson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI TRADE AND FRIENDSHIPS

THE history of commerce in Central America is no drab record of barter and boxes, nor are its problems new. It all goes back, like so many phases of the life of these colorful countries, to the golden days of the pirates themselves.

The English buccaneers were the first traders to Spanish America. Sacking and slaughter, so to speak, were actually matters of secondary importance to them. Primarily, the English ships on the Caribbean sailed in the name of trade, and while they captured a Spanish galleon or raided a Spanish colonial city by way of "eking out," at times, on the expenses of their voyages, most of them were bent on commerce.

To the eyes of the Spanish government, however, trade and piracy were equal crimes. The gallant sacking of a town or the capturing of an unwieldy galleon was an unwelcome attention, but it was no worse than the bringing of contraband from English looms and factories to sell in the Spanish colonies. Trade had always been a monopoly of Spain, and the Spaniards at home were inclined to regard the exploitation of their fellow- Spaniards who lived in the colonies as something quite as legitimate as the exploitation of the Indian serfs. Many of the great tragedies of the paralyzed material

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