Mexico’s history — and perhaps its future — is written in silver – by Leigh Thelmadatter (Mexico News Daily – March 11, 2023)

For all the hype about “Aztec gold” in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, Mexico’s classic measure of wealth has been silver — and it may be its future. Prized equally on both sides of the Atlantic, Tenochtitlán overlords demanded the metal as tribute from places like Taxco, Guerrero, long before the Spanish arrived.

When conquistador Hernán Cortés entered the capital, Moctezuma hoped to placate him with gifts, including large quantities of gold and silver. However, the strategy backfired, making the Spanish more determined to take over. Although Mexico did (and does) have gold, its vast deposits of silver have been central to its history and economy since.

Mexico’s first boom in silver production ran from 1555 to 1580 as the Spanish rapidly ventured out from Mexico City to establish mines in places well-known today: Taxco, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, etc. They were often guided by the local indigenous people. A get-rich-quick mentality meant that other economic activities in Mexico would develop slower.

Lacking machinery, the Spanish pressed the indigenous people for backbreaking digging, but they did introduce more-efficient mercury refining. The Spanish crown got miners coming and going — Spain was the only reliable source of mercury, plus miners had to pay a percentage of the refined silver.

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