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Not So Identical

In response to:

The Curse of Cortés from the May 24, 2018 issue

To the Editors:

Álvaro Enrigue states that the New Laws of 1542 gave colonial Mexico’s “indigenous subjects rights identical to those of Spaniards” [“The Curse of Cortés,” NYR, May 24]. This was far from the case. Various forms of forced labor continued to be inflicted upon the indigenous (encomienda, repartimiento). A special tax, known as tribute, was levied only on Indians. There was a wide variety of other restrictions placed on the indigenous, including being prohibited from riding horses, becoming priests, entering the university, wearing European-style clothing, residing in certain urban areas, and being forcibly settled in compact hamlets (congregation).

Philip L. Russell
Austin, Texas