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Latin-America History

The bureaucracy established in the sixteenth century in Latin-America consisted of many parts. These components include the Council of the Indies, audiencias, viceroys and the Church (Lecture, 2/13). The Crown in Spain formed each one of the components as stabilizing factors that strengthened Royal Authority. Each component had certain responsibilities that they needed to uphold and these responsibilities helped to check and balance the powers of the other bureaucratic branches. They worked sort of like the Checks and Balances of our government today.

The Crown didnt want one branch of power to get stronger than another branch so their responsibilities overlapped each other. The Council of the Indies was there to oversee every kind of government activity in the Colonies. The Council of the Indies sits in Spain and does not stay in the Americas (Lecture 2/13). Because of this, the council was not familiar with American affairs and eventually the Crowns failure to come to grips with basic personnel issues thus weakened the Council of the Indies ability to provide high quality oversight and administration .

The council also issued laws, made recommendations to the monarch, approved major expenditures in the colonies and heard cases appealed from the American audiencias and the House of Trade . Another component to this bureaucracy was the viceroys. The viceroys were appointed by the king to act as little sub-kings in the colonies. As the foremost executives in the colonies, the viceroys were responsible for general administration; the imposition, collection, and disbursement of taxes.

The viceroys also administer the construction and maintenance of public works; The maintenance of public order; defense against both internal rebellions and foreign enemies; support of the Church; and protection of the Indians . At the same time, the other high-ranking officials like audencias, treasury officials, and corporate bodies constrained the viceroys ability to act alone. This is an example of the overlapping checks and balances of power in this bureaucracy.

The audencias where the people chosen to work as the executive branch and limit the power of the viceroys in the colonies (Lecture 2/13). Without the audencias, the Crown was scared that the viceroys would grow too powerful and try to over throw the crown. With a checks and balance system this bureaucracy stabilizes power in the colonies and keeps the Crown in control. The Church was also an important part of this bureaucratic system. The Crown nurtured the Church financially and legislatively.

The Church built schools in indigenous areas to assimilate to Spanish ways. The Church forced the indigenous people to assimilate to the Spanish ways. They burnt Texcolan books and killed anyone who could pass on the Indians old ways (Lecture 2/13-15). After the Crowns bankruptcy in 1557, the king extended the practice of selling offices and appointments to the Indies. The Crown started by selling only minor offices and appointments, but eventually wanted more revenue and began selling the political administrators position as well as the professional bureaucrats.

These were essential positions that were considered most central to the Crowns maintenance of authority, revenue and security . With these positions being able to be bought by anyone, like native sons and outsiders, there was a likely hood that there will be a decrease in opportunities for advancement and an increased possibility for corruption. By 1700, the Crown even began to sell appointments to the office of viceroy. This was asking for trouble.

Since money was replacing merit as the primary criterion for appointment, once non-Spanish native sons became viceroys they wanted to stay there, showing no intention of ever leaving. This limited the potential for advancement. Also given the modest salaries associated with most non-fee-earning positions, the temptation to resort to extralegal sources of income was irresistible for many bureaucrats. This, too, worked against the interest of the Crown .

There are many other ways that the sale of offices and appointments decreased chances of Spanish advancement and increased the chance of corruption in the colonies. To conclude, the bureaucracy consisted of the Church, the Council of the Indies, viceroys and audencias. These components worked together to mobilize the new colonies, but eventually because of the sale of offices and appointments the mobilization stopped and the kingdom started to crumble. The once stable bureaucracy that was formed to control the New World slowly grew corrupt and unstable.

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