A major European colonial power, Spain had an effective, strategic plan of influence, control and assimilation of native populations in its bid to amass wealth and acquire territory. Strategies included domination by superior weaponry through surprise attacks; the Columbian exchange, which opened up trade possibilities that maximized profits and resources for the mother country; and encomiendas, an economic and labor system akin to slavery in which Spain offered protection and education in exchange for labor and taxes.
Other colonial agendas that secured Spain's control over American territories were the successful propagation of Christianity and the inadvertent spreading of diseases, which significantly decimated native populations that had no natural immunity to foreign bacteria.
Over time, a new bloodline was introduced, the Mestizos, referring to people of mixed Spanish or European and American Indian descent. Since colonial society was highly hierarchical, the emergence of mestizo culture allowed for another form of institutional control: racism. Greater social worth was ascribed to people with a higher percentage of pure Spanish blood. Similarly, access to better jobs, government positions and land was based entirely on racial consideration. Thus, Spanish rule institutionalized discrimination as part of its social structure.