To borrow lines from a wonderfully descriptive account of formulaic history, the Spanish conquest of the Central and South Americas came down to guns, germs, and steel. The Spanish came to the Americas seeking gold. Cortez, landing in Mexico, was indeed initially appeased with gifts of gold by the numerous Aztecs, yet the god-like terror incited upon the natives by the relatively insignificant amount of Spaniards with horses, armor, and "boomsticks" was as effectual in securing subordination as the fierce population decline that smallpox would soon encourage amongst the natives. It was soon determined that there was little gold to be found in this land, yet there were plenty of slaves fit to cultivate sugarcane and other cash crops that would appeal to Europe. Silver also happened to be abundant and became a major export. Essentially, the Spanish sought the exploitation of Latin (or the beginning of Latin) America's resources for the mercantilistic economic benefit of Spain and encountered little resistance from the natives in achieving this end. .
After breaking the power of the Aztecs to militarily resist conquest, the Spanish integrated the natives into a production powerhouse in which they tuned the native culture to be most efficient. This included the Catholic assimilation of all natives- a convenient vehicle through which foreign presence and further conquest was justified within itself- and the labor organization of the natives, enforced by the deistically and logistically eminent Spanish government. Due to the very logistics of the transatlantic rift and the volume of the Americas, the papacy gave the Spanish monarchy authority to conduct the missionary work. Hence, the lines between God and Spain were blurred by ordained design, further decimating the shards of Native American culture that remained in Latin America. The church became very much a tool to be wielded unhindered by Spain in that the church welcomed conquest for purposes of conversion- in fact owed their very presence in the Americas to Spain, and caused little uproar over the horrible treatment of the natives by the Spaniards.