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see peonagepeonage
, system of involuntary servitude based on the indebtedness of the laborer (the peon) to his creditor. It was prevalent in Spanish America, especially in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru.
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(from Quechua mifa, literally, “turn,” “time”), a form of forced labor in rural communities of ancient Peru in which persons were assigned public work in mines, farming, or construction by the casting of lots. The Spanish conquerors of Latin America made the mita an integral part of the feudal exploitation system of their colonies. The mita was formally abolished in the 18th century, but was in fact maintained for some time to come, emerging as one of the reasons for mass mortality among the Indian population. The mita may still be encountered in a number of Andean countries of Latin America as a survival of precapitalist production relations.


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