Commentary No. 002
Date: Possibly 1501
Theme: Recommended tax rate on sugar for La Española as part of an early colonial proposed tax regime. Sugar production in Iberian posessions at the time was associated with enslaved Black labor
Source: PARES, Portal de Archivos Españoles--Archivo General de Indias,INDIFERENTE,418,L.1-113- Imagen Núm: 112 /378 – Imagen Núm: 115/378.
By 1501 the Spanish Crown was already contemplating the production of cane-sugar as a viable and likely operation to implement on the island colony of La Española. This is evident from the inclusion of sugar-canes in a list of items expected to be used to pay the tithe “on the island of La Española and on the other islands and Tierra Firme” apparently prepared by secretary of the Crown Gaspar Gricio. The “ tithe of sugar in canes” was to be paid, as per the Crown’s orders, in the form of one sugar cane per every ten harvested, the owners of sugar mills being obliged to mill the canes owed to the tithe collector for free.
As mentioned elsewhere, the fact that in 1501 the Spanish government was thinking of producing cane sugar in La Española made the importation of enslaved Black Africans to work in the cane fields and milling houses or ingenios of the colony all the more likely in the ensuing years and decades, since enslaved Blacks had been and were being used as the bulk of the sugar mill laborers in the Canary Islands and the Madeira Islands by the Spaniards and the Portuguese, respectively.
 The copy of the document includes no date. We know the proposed tax schedule was prepared by Gaspar Gricio and that this copy appears in the archival bound volume between other documents dated in 1501.