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mita

in colonial Spanish America, a system by which the crown allowed certain colonists to recruit Indians for forced labour. The repartimiento system, frequently called the mita in Peru and the cuatequil in New Spain (Mexico), was in operation as early as 1499 and was given definite form about 1575. About 5 percent of the Indians in a given district might be subject to labour in mines and about 10 percent more for seasonal agricultural work. A colonist who wanted a repartimiento had to apply to the viceroy or the audiencia (provincial appeals court), stating that the Indian labour required on his plantation, ranch, or mine would provide the country with essential food and goods

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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