What does false generation mean

Latin America Institute (LAI)

The demographic catastrophe is a prerequisite for the development of colonial societies in America. It influenced the transatlantic cultural contact, the history of European expansion and generally modern perception.

Estimates of the total number of Indian populations living in the New World at the time of the 'discovery' diverge considerably and have long been controversial in historical research. For the later Hispanic America a guideline value of around 35-40 million appears plausible. For North America, the numbers fluctuate between 7 and 10 million indigenous people and for Brazil between 500,000 and 2.5 million. In Hispanic America alone, the indigenous population declined by around 90% over the next 150 years.

The dimensions of the demographic catastrophe were already terrifying in the 16th century. In Mexico and Central America, the population decline was likely more than 90% between 1519 and 1568, and between 80 and 90% in most other regions. On the Caribbean islands, such as the island of Hispaniola in particular, one can literally speak of the extinction of the indigenous population.

[...] the demographic catastrophe [was] not over [...] around 1570, but [lasted] until around the middle of the 17th century. The number of indigenous people was reduced to around 4 million by 1650. In particular, [..] has to be differentiated according to inland regions: In particular, the densely populated core regions of New Spain (today's Mexico with Central America) and Peru showed above-average declines. In contrast, the sparsely populated border areas (e.g. in today's Chile, Argentina, Paraguay) showed a less pronounced decline.

The reasons for the demographic catastrophe were varied. In the first place were the diseases that were caused by Columbian Exchange were introduced to America from Europe and Africa. Not only smallpox, plague and typhus, which are also deadly in Europe, but also there rather harmless diseases such as flu or measles spread, in some cases pandemic, claiming countless deaths and leading to falling birth rates among the Indians in the long term [...]. Partly in the wake of the conquerors, partly ahead of them, the epidemics became an essential factor in the conquest of the Indian empires.

In addition to the epidemics, the wars of conquest contributed to the population decline. The various forms of slavery and forced labor that the Spanish and Portuguese imposed after the conquest resulted in further deaths. This was accompanied by nutritional problems, which could also be traced back to the ┬┤destruction of the ecological balance┬┤ by new products and cultivation methods. Epidemics, hunger, exploitation and general hopelessness also led to a demoralization of the autochthonous population, which was reflected in falling fertility rates. "(Rinke 2005: 895-899)

As a consequence of the associated decline in labor, the Spanish conquerors began to bring more and more African slaves to America.

The Europeans took the massive population decline as an opportunity to underpin their cultural superiority over the indigenous peoples. The demographic catastrophe was partly interpreted by them as a judgment of God and further promoted their paternalistic attitude towards the indigenous population.

The population decline in Hispanic America slowed from the mid-17th century. Finally, after a period of stagnation, the population rose again. The decisive factor was the development of resistance to pathogens introduced from Europe.

From: Rinke, Stefan:Demographic catastrophe. In: Jaeger (ed.) Encyclopedia of Modern Times. 2005 (Vol. 2), pp. 895-899