Coffee

Since the sixteenth century, coffee has been a major trade good exported from Latin America. The exotic tropical commodity was in high demand back in Europe and the Spanish settlers found the tropical climate of Guatemala one quite conducive to its cultivation. "African slaves were combined with European capital to growth Arabian bush and integrate the various parts of the system for the advantage of the metropolis. There was not much concern about the local consequences in the colonies except the extent to which swelling exports tightened colonial bonds and filled metropolitan coffers." (Topik 5)

Posted by Emily Lipski

Topik, S.C.(2000). Coffee Anyone? Recent Research on Latin American Coffee Societies. Hispanic American Historical Review, 1-43. Derived from Ebsco Host on 19 January 2010.
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Cocoa Beans

Cocoa beans are another example of how the Columbian exchange effected Guatemala. It grows naturally there and was cultivated and used by the Mayans long before Columbus arrived. After he did though, it became a commonly traded item. "Mayan Merchants often traded cocoa beans for other commodities such as cloth, jade, obsidian and ceremonial feathers." Cocoa beans became increasingly more popular after they were introduced in Spain in 1585 from Cobán, Guatemala and remain an export of Guatemala to this day.

Posted by Keenan

Retrieved from: http://www.authenticmaya.com/cacao.htm
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Indigo

Prior to the Spanish colonization of Guatemala in 1524, a major crop in the area was that of the xiquilite bush, from which indigo is derived. By the dawn of the 17th century, waves of disease had again decimated a large portion of the indigenous peoples in Latin America. Cocoa beans, which had been a major export of the area, depended on an Indian labor force for cultivation. Because of the significant number of disease related deaths, there was simply not enough Indian laborers to sustain the production of Cocoa beans at the volume Spain had grown accustomed to. In an attempt to keep profiting from New World exports while adapting to the increasingly limited Indian labor force, Spain turned its attention to the production of Indigo, a crop that required far less labor than Cocoa and one for which a market in Europe already existed. By 1620 indigo had become the major export industry of Central America, with most of the obrajes on which it was grown located in the Kingdom of Guatemala (what is now present day Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize and Costa Rica).

Posted by Corinne Scott

Retrieved from: Macleod, Murdo J., Spanish Central America: A Socioeconomic History, 1520-1720, pg. 176-197
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