An hacienda (UK: // or US: //; Spanish: [aˈθjenda] or [aˈsjenda]), in the colonies of the Spanish Empire, is an estate, similar in form to a Roman villa. Some haciendas were plantations, mines or factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities.
The term hacienda is imprecise, but usually refers to landed estates of significant size. Smaller holdings were termed estancias or ranchos that were owned almost exclusively by Spaniards and criollos and in rare cases by mixed-race individuals. In Argentina, the term estancia is used for large estates that in Mexico would be termed haciendas. In recent decades, the term has been used in the United States to refer to an architectural style associated with the earlier estate manor houses.
The hacienda system of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, New Granada and Peru was a system of large land holdings. A similar system existed on a smaller scale in the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
Haciendas were developed as profit-making, economic enterprises linked to regional or international markets. The owner of an hacienda was termed an hacendado. Although the hacienda is not directly linked to the early grants of indigenous American labor, the encomienda, many Spanish holders of encomiendas did acquire land or develop enterprises where they had access to that forced labor. Even though the private landed estates that comprised most haciendas did not have a direct tie to the encomienda, they are nonetheless linked. Encomenderos were in a position to retain their prominence economically via the hacienda. Since the encomienda was a grant from the crown, holders were dependent on the crown for its continuation. As the crown moved to eliminate the encomienda with its labor supply, Spaniards consolidated private landholdings and recruited free labor on a permanent or casual basis. The long term trend then was the creation of the hacienda as secure private property, which survived the colonial period and into the 20th century. Estates were integrated into a market-based economy aimed at the Hispanic sector and cultivated crops such as sugar, wheat, fruits and vegetables and produced animal products such as meat, wool, leather, and tallow.
Haciendas originated in Spanish land grants, made to many conquistadors and crown officials, but many ordinary Spaniards could also petition for land grants from the crown. The system is considered to have started in present-day Mexico, when the Spanish Crown granted to Hernán Cortés the title of Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca in 1529. It gave him a tract of land that included all of the present state of Morelos. Cortés was also granted encomiendas, that gave him access to a vast pool of indigenous labor.
In Spanish America, the owner of an hacienda was called the hacendado or patrón. Most owners of large and profitable haciendas preferred to live in Spanish cities, often near the hacienda, but in Mexico, the richest owners lived in Mexico City, visiting their haciendas at intervals. Onsite management of the rural estates was by a paid administrator or manager, which was similar to the arrangement with the encomienda. Administrators were often hired for a fixed term of employment, receiving a salary and at times some share of the profits of the estate. Some administrators also acquired landholdings themselves in the area of the estate they were managing.
The work force on haciendas varied, depending on the type of hacienda and where it was located. In central Mexico near indigenous communities and growing crops to supply urban markets, there was often a small, permanent workforce resident on the hacienda. Labor could be recruited from nearby indigenous communities on an as-needed basis, such as planting and harvest time. The permanent and temporary hacienda employees worked land that belonged to the patrón and under the supervision of local labor bosses. In some places small scale cultivators or campesinos worked small holdings belonging to the hacendado, and owed a portion of their crops to him. In a number of places, the economy of the 18th century was largely a barter system, with little specie circulated on the hacienda.
Stock raising was central to ranching haciendas, the largest of which were in areas without dense indigenous populations, such as northern Mexico, but as indigenous populations declined in central areas, more land became available for grazing. Livestock were animals originally imported from Spain, including cattle, horses, sheep, and goats were part of the Columbian Exchange and produced significant ecological changes. Sheep in particular had a devastating impact on the environment due to overgrazing. Mounted ranch hands variously called vaqueros and gauchos (in the Southern Cone), among other terms worked for pastoral haciendas.
Where the hacienda included working mines, as in Mexico, the patrón might gain immense wealth. The unusually large and profitable Jesuit hacienda Santa Lucía, near Mexico City, established in 1576 and lasting to the expulsion in 1767, has been reconstructed by Herman Konrad from archival sources. This reconstruction has revealed the nature and operation of the hacienda system in Mexico, its labor force, its systems of land tenure and its relationship to larger Hispanic society in Mexico.
The Catholic Church and orders, especially the Jesuits, acquired vast hacienda holdings or preferentially loaned money to the hacendados. As the hacienda owners' mortgage holders, the Church's interests were connected with the landholding class. In the history of Mexico and other Latin American countries, the masses developed some hostility to the church; at times of gaining independence or during certain political movements, the people confiscated the church haciendas or restricted them.
Haciendas in the Caribbean were developed primarily as sugar plantations, dependent on the labor of African slaves imported to the region. were staffed by slaves brought from Africa. In Puerto Rico, this system ended with the abolition of slavery on 22 March 1873.
The conditions of haciendas and chattel slavery in Mexico has been compared to those of a Soviet Gulag by R.J. Rummel, an analyst of what he calls democides, estimating 69,000 Mexicans or 1/2 a percent of Mexico's population perished annually from the system.
In South America, the hacienda remained after the collapse of the colonial system in the early 19th century when nations gained independence. In some places, such as Dominican Republic, with independence came efforts to break up the large plantation holdings into a myriad of small subsistence farmers' holdings, an agrarian revolution. In Argentina and elsewhere, a second, international, money-based economy developed independently of the haciendas, which sank into rural poverty.
In most of Latin America the old holdings remained. In Mexico the haciendas were abolished by law in 1917 during the revolution, but remnants of the system affect Mexico today. In rural areas, the wealthiest people typically affect the style of the old hacendados even though their wealth these days derives from more capitalistic enterprises.
In Bolivia, haciendas were more prevalent until the 1952 Revolution of Víctor Paz Estenssoro. He established an extensive program of land distribution as part of the Agrarian Reform. Likewise, Peru had haciendas until the Agrarian Reform (1969) of Juan Velasco Alvarado, who expropriated the land from the hacendados and redistributed it to the peasants.
In the Philippines, the hacienda system and lifestyles were influenced by the Spanish colonization that occurred via Mexico for more than 300 years. Attempts to break up the hacienda system in the Philippines through land reform laws during the second half of the 1900s have not been successful. There were protests related to the Hacienda Luisita.
Haciendas in Puerto Rico developed during the time of Spanish colonization. An example of these was the 1833 Hacienda Buena Vista, which dealt primarily with the cultivation, packaging, and exportation of coffee. Today, Hacienda Buena Vista, which is listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places, is operated as a museum.
The 1861 Hacienda Mercedita was a sugar plantation that once produced, packaged and sold sugar in the Snow White brand name. In the late 19th century, Mercedita became the site of production of Don Q rum. Its profitable rum business is today called Destilería Serrallés. The last of such haciendas decayed considerably starting in the 1950s, with the industrialization of Puerto Rico via Operation Bootstrap. At the turn of the 20th century, most coffee haciendas had disappeared.
The sugar-based haciendas changed into centrales azucares. Yet by the 1990s, and despite significant government fiscal support, the last 13 Puerto Rican centrales azucares were forced to shut down. This marked the end of haciendas operating in Puerto Rico. In 2000, the last two sugar mills closed, after having operated for nearly 100 years.
In the present era, the Ministerio de Hacienda is the government department in Spain that deals with finance and taxation, as in Mexico Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, and which is equivalent to the Department of the Treasury in the United States or HM Treasury in the United Kingdom.
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