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date: 06 December 2023

Conquest and Colonization of Panama, ca. 1509–1530locked

Conquest and Colonization of Panama, ca. 1509–1530locked

  • Carmen Mena-GarcíaCarmen Mena-GarcíaUniversidad de Sevilla


Darién was the first Hispanic frontier in continental America. A military frontier of warriors, horses, dogs, and arquebuses, clearly reminiscent of the medieval period, Darién was created in 1509 in the most distant periphery of the empire, in a marginal and hostile space. The conquest of these jungle lands, soon transformed into a “cemetery of conquistadores,” and the following expansion through the isthmus was one of the hardest experiences that the Spanish faced in their advance through the New World. For the Indigenous Cueva population, the invasion of the West was even more dramatic. In just a few decades, the Cuevas were extinguished as a result of wars, epidemics, and the slave trade, practiced on a large scale by Spanish captains and Crown officials. Darién was a type of experimental laboratory. There in the art of war a race of frontier captains was forged, which later expanded throughout the continent. With the foundation of Panamá (1519), the frontier moved to the Pacific, and Spanish expansion was projected, like a spearpoint, toward Central America and Perú, seeking new opportunities and leaving the territory practically empty of men and resources.


  • Colonialism and Imperialism

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