Bartolomé de las Casas
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Early Years

Bartolomé de las Casas was born in 1484 and became an important figure during the colonization of New Spain. He was a 16th century priest and was the first bishop of Chiapas. He was strongly against the torture and genocide of the indigenous people that he witnessed while the Spanish soldiers were taking over parts of the new world.

Las Casas disapproved of Christopher Columbus' methods for funding his trips through sending slaves back to Spain for money. He was really affected by the slaves' treatment and it was in 1513 he became a chaplain in the conquest of Cuba. He commented that his time as chaplain allowed him to bear witness to some simply terrible scenes of numerous natives being killed.

Journey to Spain

He had to go to Spain in order to get his message across. He tried to set up reforms to pay the natives a good wage and provide them with other basic facilities, like hospitals. It failed and attacks were aggravated when the Spanish had already planned to shop more slaves and the native Caribs burned down one of the Spanish settlements. This gave the Spanish more of a reason to keep attacking.

He joined a Dominican monastery in Santo Domingo and oversaw the church "Puerto de Plata." He continued to write about the history of the Indies where he depicted all the actions during his time in the colonization of New Spain. He attempted to convert several of the natives and was successful and built several buildings. Many of his policies didn't go down so smoothly in the new world and threats were made on his life. He went back to Spain to defend himself against treason and managed to convince just enough people that the natives should be treated on the same level as the Spanish. His policies were allowed to stay and the policies are similar to the UN's human rights policies that are used today.