Commentary No. 058
Date: 1568-1572, approximately. Santo Domingo, La Española.
Theme: Opinions of local royal prosecutor Santiago del Riego about the need for additional enslaved labor and other pending issues in La Española as shared in a letter to the Crown.
Source: PARES, Portal de Archivos Españoles—Archivo General de Indias, Patronato, 173, N.2, R6.
Forty years after the 1528 statement by two colonial officials of La Española about the convenience to increase the enslaved black population in the colony as a means to guarantee its survival, judicial colonial official Santiago del Riego, in a communication to the Crown in 1568-72, reiterated the same concept, urging the monarch to allow 2,000 additional slaves into the colony free of duties or paying very little. Del Riego actually highlighted the importance of labor by Blacks in general, enslaved or free, for the well-being of the colony.
Del Riego added the following details to his recommendation for a sizable increase of the enslaved population of La Española: 1) that the opportunity to acquire additional slaves was given to all the towns of the colony; 2) that towns were given a term of two years to import the slaves; 3) that non of the enslaved blacks to be imported could be taken out of the colony for at least six years; 4) that the imported slaves be branded on the face as a way to avoid their fraudulent transferring to other territories; 5) that a separate book be kept by the colonial treasury officials of the slaves brought in by each colonist; 6) that one half of the imported slaves be devoted to work on wheat, barley, ginger or cotton or mining; and the other half to commercial agriculture.