Thomas Gage (ca. 1600-1656) was an English-born Catholic who traveled to Mexico as a Dominican priest. During his time in the Americas, he worked for five years in Mixco, a town near what is now Guatemala City. Upon his return to Europe, Gage renounced Catholicism, and later wrote about his years in Spanish America. In many parts of the Americas, slave labor was common, and while Gage reports on the excesses of slave owners, he is more critical of their cruelty than of the institution of slavery itself.
As in many parts of Spanish America, the color of one's skin was an important, if not the most important, factor in defining one's social rank. The slaves of Juan Palomeque that Gage writes about were especially unfortunate. Not only was their owner excessively cruel, but living on a ranch, marked by their skin color, and in the case of Macaco, scarred with brands, they would have had few opportunities to escape by blending in with Guatemala's predominantly indigenous population.