A History of Paraguay
By Baruja, Paiva & Pinto

Chapter 2


The uncertainties generated by the exit of Pedro de Mendoza took Carlos V to promulgate a certificate (decree) something one of a kind in colonial Latin America. The certificates granted the colonists the right to elect the governor of the Río de Plata province if Mendoza had not designated a successor or if the successor had died. Two years later, the colonists elected Irala as governor. His domain included actual Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and most of Chile and good parts of Brazil and Bolivia. In 1542 the province transformed to part of the Virreinato recently established in Peru, with the capital in Lima. Beginning in 1559, the Audience of Charcas (actual Sucre, Bolivia) controlled the legal subjects of the province.


The administration of Irala set the standard for the subjects on the interior of Paraguay until the independence. Asunción was not only populated by the Spanish, but also by people from France, Italy, Germany, England, and Portugal. This community of approximately 350 men chose Guaraní women as wives and concubines. Irala had several aborigine concubines and encouraged his men to marry Indian women so they would lose feelings of homesickness. Paraguay quickly became known as a land of mestizos. Following the example set by Irala, the Europeans raised their children as Spanish who became the creole elite despite the continual arrivals of more Europeans.
The Guaraní, the Kario, the Tape, the Guarajos, and the Tupi were tribes who inhabited an immense area that began from the mountainous regions of the Guyanas near Brazil until the Uruguay River. The Guaraní were always surrounded by other hostile tribes and so warred frequently. They considered permanent wives an improper show of conduct by warriors in the way that some tribes practiced polygamy with the objective of augmenting the number of offspring. Many times the caciques had twenty or thirty concubines, of whom the caciques shared openly with occasional visitors. The chiefs treated their official wives with respect but did not deny punishing the adulteresses with death. The following observation is worth taking note of: as they were polygamous, the Spanish felt inclined to follow such a way of life. And as they shared the women, the Indians were decimated by the sifilis, a disease unknown in America and important to the conquistadores. In that manner, the pure-blood Guaraní were numerically reduced in the course of the years.


Like other tribes in the zone, the Guaraní were cannibals. But they normally ate only their prisoners of war who were brave and gave the hope of acquiring the courage and strength of their victims.


In contrast with the hospitable Guaraní, the tribes of the Chaco, like the Payaguás (of where the name Paraguay originated, according to various versions on the origin of the name of the country), the Guaycurúes, the M’bayá, the Abipones, the Mocoríes, and the Chiriguanos were implacable enemies of the whites. The travelers in the Chaco told how the Indians were capable of quickly learning the use of the horses (animals of European origin) to win wars. The Guaraní accepted the arrival of the Spanish and looked to them for protection from the ferocious neighboring tribes but also waited for the Hispanics to join them in battle against the Incas once more.

Las incertidumbres generadas por la salida de Pedro de Mendoza llevaron a Carlos V a promulgar una cédula (decreto) algo único en la Latinoamérica colonial. Las cédulas concedían el derecho para elegir al gobernador de la provincia del Río de Plata a los colonos si Mendoza no hubiese designado un sucesor o si el sucesor se hubiese muerto. Dos años después, los colonos eligieron a Irala como gobernador. Su dominio incluyó al Paraguay actual, Argentina, Uruguay, la mayoría de Chile y buenas partes del Brasil y de Bolivia. En 1542 la provincia se transformó en parte del Virreinato recientemente establecido del Perú, con capital en Lima. Iniciándose en 1559, la Audiencia de Charcas (actual Sucre, Bolivia) controló los asuntos legales de la provincia.


El gobierno de Irala puso el modelo para los asuntos interiores de Paraguay hasta la independencia. Además de los españoles, en Asunción también vivía gente proveniente de Francia, Italia, Alemania, Inglaterra y Portugal. Esta comunidad de aproximadamente 350 hombres escogieron como esposas y concubinas entre las mujeres guaraníes. Irala tenía varias concubinas aborígenes y animó a sus hombres para que se casaran con mujeres indias así se eliminaban las ganas de retorno a la madre patria. El Paraguay se erigió como tierra de mestizos rápidamente e incitado por el ejemplo de Irala, los europeos levantaron su descendencia como españoles. No obstante, las llegadas continuas de más europeos permitieron el desarrollo de una elite tipificada del criollo.


Los guaraníes, los kario, los tapé, los itatines, los guarajos y los tupi eran tribus que habitaron una inmensa área que comienza desde las regiones montañosas de las Guyanas cerca del Brasil hasta el río Uruguay. Los guaraníes siempre estaban rodeados por otras tribus hostiles por lo tanto frecuentemente andaban guerreando. Ellos creían que las esposas permanentes eran impropias para la conducta de un guerrero de modo que en algunas tribus practicaban la poligamia con el objetivo de aumentar el número de descendencia. Los caciques tenían a menudo veinte o treinta concubinas, las cuales ellos compartían libremente con visitantes ocasionales. Esos jefes trataban bien a sus esposas oficiales pero no dudaban en castigar a menudo a las adúlteras con la muerte. Vale aquí la siguiente observación: como eran polígamos, tal vez los españoles se sintieron alentados a seguir tal norma de vida. Y como compartían las mujeres, los indios se vieron diezmados posteriormente por la sífilis, enfermedad desconocida en América e importada por los conquistadores. De esa manera los guaraníes puros se vieron reducidos numéricamente en el transcurso de los años.


Como las otras tribus de la zona, los guaraníes eran caníbales. Pero ellos normalmente comían sólo a sus enemigos más valientes capturados en batalla con la esperanza de adquirir la valentía y poder de sus víctimas.


En contraste con el guaraní hospitalario, las tribus de Chaco, como los payaguás (de donde provenía el nombre Paraguay según una de las varias versiones sobre el origen del nombre del país), los guaycurúes, los m'bayá, los abipones, los mocovíes y los chiriguanos eran enemigos implacables de los blancos. Los viajeros en el Chaco narraban que los indios eran capaces de aprender rápidamente el uso de los caballos (animales de origen europeo) para ganar guerras. Los guaraníes aceptaron la llegada de los españoles y los buscaban para protección contra las tribus feroces vecinas pero también esperaron que los hispánicos los llevaran una vez más a una lucha contra el Inca.

The peaceful era established by Irala Prevailed in 1542 when Carlos V named Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, one of the famous conquistadores of his era as governor of the province. Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca arrived at Asuncion after spending 10 years with the Indians in Florida. The people who opposed Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca at that time accused him of abusing his power against the Indians. He needed to get rid of the people who were against him so he sent them to north of Paraguay crossing the Chaco in search of route to Peru. This expedition angered the Indian tribe that lived in the Chaco; in fact it angered them so much they started a two years war. Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca’s time was about to end. In one of the first many rebellion of the colony against the crown he was arrested and sent back in chains to Spain.

Irala govern all the way until his death in 1556, in many ways his governing system was one of the most humane and new to the new world of Spain which marked a difference with the conquistadores era. Irala maintain a good relationship with his people and the gurani Indians. He pacified the hostile Indians in Chaco and started to trade with Peru. This helped the Paraguayan economy because it boosted textile reproduction and introduced cattle to Paraguay. The arrival of Pedro Fernandez de la Torre in abril end 1556, as the founder of the Catholic Church in Paraguay.

In the last years of his life Irala surrendered to colonial complains and pressure, causing him to establishing an encomienda. Under this system, the colonial citizens received land with rights to labor and production of the Indians living in that area. Although it looked like a good idea this system failed quickly and turned into slavery. Although Irala could did not find or conquest like the conquistadores he was loved by the people and his death was lamented. Irala was so great that the following rulers were always ruling after his shadow.


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