Before entering fully into the meaning of the term encomienda it is necessary to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can expose that it derives from Latin, specifically from the expression "in commendam", which was used by the Catholic Church to refer to what was the ecclesiastical position that a person came to perform during a certain time.
However, later, with the passage of time and the discovery of America, the term that occupies us with another meaning also began to be used. Specifically, at that time the Spaniards who traveled to the New World received an offer in exchange for money: be in charge of the indigenous people who lived in a specific land to take care of their education, their protection and their evangelization.
The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE ), in its dictionary, recognizes more than a dozen meanings of the term encomienda. The meanings vary according to context and region.
In Latin America , a parcel is a package sent through a Postal Service or of transport . It is usually a box with some object inside that a sender sends to a receiver.
For example: “I already sent you the parcel with the drinks game that was grandma's, it will surely arrive in the next few days”, "Yesterday I received a commission with several copies of the latest edition of the magazine", “I sold my PlayStation online and sent it to the buyer as a commission once I received the payment”.
In ancient times, a commission was a institution whose characteristics depended on place and time. The commission established a dependency link , leaving a disadvantaged group subordinated to a powerful authority.
As we mentioned at the beginning, in the American colonies of Spain , the encomienda was used as a mechanism of dominion over aboriginal communities. The encomendero was a European who acceded to right of receiving the parcel, receiving the taxes that the Crown imposed on the natives either in species or at work. The justification was that Native Americans became subjects of the Spanish Empire. In exchange for these taxes, the encomendero had to guarantee the protection and maintenance of the aborigines, although many times that relationship resulted in an abusive bond and the natives were subjected to forced labor.
In this regard, we have to highlight another important series of aspects on the encomienda such as the following:
-It became a really useful instrument to establish and consolidate what was the domain of the Spaniards over the natives.
-The Indians who became entrusted not only had to pay their corresponding taxes but also worked in the construction of places such as churches, prisons, hearings, administrations ... Specifically, the benefits that the Indians had to "pay" They could be of two different types: personal service, which could lead them to become domestic workers who was in charge of the task, and tribute.
-In many cases, the parcels came to hide a slavery, which was legally prohibited.