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Globalization from Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama until today 1

First part

Eric Toussaint
(Translation from French: Jean-Pierre Schermann and Lorraine Buckley, Coorditrad. Revised by Diren Valayden)

  March 2008

The beginning of Globalization goes back to the outcomes of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus that brought him, on October 1492, to the shore of an island in the Caribbean Sea. It was the starting point of a brutal and bloody intervention of European sea powers in the history of American peoples, a region of the world that had, up to then, remained insulated from regular relationships with Europe, Africa and Asia. The Spanish conquistadors and their Portuguese, British, French and Dutch2 counterparts together conquered the whole geographical area, commonly known as the Americas3 ,by causing the death of the vast majority of the indigenous population in order to exploit the natural resources (in particular gold and silver)4 . Simultaneously, European powers started the conquest of Asia. Later on, they completed their domination in Australia and finally Africa.

In 1500, just at the beginning of the brutal intervention of the Spaniards and the Portuguese in Central and South America, this region had at least 18 million inhabitants (some authors put forward much larger figures of close to 100 million)5. One century later, only around 8 million inhabitants were left (including European settlers and the first African slaves). In the case of most islands of the Caribbean Sea, the whole indigenous population had been wiped out. It is worth recalling that during a long period of time, Europeans, supported by the Vatican6, did not consider indigenous people from the Americas as human beings7 . A convenient justification for exploitation and extermination.

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