The political as well as the administrative life of the country was absolutely in the hands of the wire-pullers in Madrid; and their local agents, the governors, the mayors and the electoral potentates styled los Caciques, were all creatures of the minister of the interior at the head of Castilian centralization.
For a century politics in Spain had been a game, played by professionals, between the ins and outs; victory or defeat at the polls depended less on any intelligent popular judgment on the questions at issue than on the passing interests of the wire-pullers and bosses (Caciques) who worked the electoral machinery.
The main objects that he set before himself were, firstly, the maintenance of order; secondly, the reform of local government, so as to destroy the power of the Caciques and educate the people in their privileges and responsibilities.
In this he drew a masterly picture, not only of the life and immorality of the friars but also of the insolent Filipino chiefs or caciques, subservient to the powers above, tyrannical to those below, superstitious, unprogressive and grasping.
He actually sent home, in 1494, above Soo Indian prisoners taken in wars with the caciques, who, he suggested, might be sold as slaves at Seville.