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Slavery in Latin America was an economic and social institution that existed in Latin America before the colonial era until its legal abolition in the newly independent states during the 19th century.[1] However, it continued illegally in some regions into the 20th century.[2] Slavery in Latin America began in the pre-colonial period[3] when indigenous civilizations, including the Maya and Aztec, enslaved captives taken in war.[4] After the conquest of Latin America by the Spanish and Portuguese, of the nearly 12 million slaves that were shipped across the Atlantic, over 4 million enslaved Africans were brought to Latin America. Roughly 3.5 million of those slaves were brought to Brazil.[5]

After the gradual emancipation of most black slaves, slavery continued along the Pacific coast of South America throughout the 19th century. Peruvian slave traders kidnapped Polynesians, primarily from the Marquesas Islands and Easter Island, and forced them to perform physical labour in mines and the guano industry of Peru and Chile.[6]

Enslavement of the peoples of the Americas: the encomienda system

Encomienda (Spanish pronunciation: [eŋkoˈmjenda]) was a labor system in Spain and its empire. It rewarded invaders with the labor of particular groups of subject people. It was first established in Spain during the Roman period but was also used following the Christian conquest of Muslim territories. It was applied on a much larger scale during Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Philippines. Subject people were considered vassals of the Spanish monarch. The Crown awarded an encomienda as a grant to a particular individual. In the conquest era of the sixteenth century, the grants were considered to be a monopoly on the labor of particular groups of Indians, held in perpetuity by the grant holder, called the encomendero, and his descendants.[7]

With the ouster of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish crown sent a royal governor, Fray Nicolás de Ovando, who established the formal encomienda system.[8] In many cases, Native Americans were forced to do hard labor and subjected to extreme punishment and death if they resisted.[9] One conquistador, Bartolomé de las Casas, was sent to the Caribbean to conquer the land in the name of the Spanish crown. He was rewarded with an encomienda for the effort he gave in honor of the crown, but after years of seeing the poor treatment of indigenous people, he refused to allow such treatment to continue. Las Casas sailed back to Spain, asking King Ferdinand and his wife Isabella to ban Indigenous slavery. In return, he suggested the use of African slaves for the hard labor of the new farmlands in the Caribbean, as they had been enslaving their own in a continent-wide system since 700AD.[10] By this time, the Spanish had already been using African slaves bought from African Slaving Empires for some of their hard labor in Europe. Due to the persuasion of Las Casas, Queen Isabella of Castle forbade Indian slavery and deemed the indigenous to be "free vassals of the crown".[11] Las Casas expanded on the issue in the famous Valladolid debate. Various versions of the Leyes de Indias, or Laws of the Indies, from 1512 onwards attempted to regulate the interactions between the settlers and natives. The natives continued to fight wars for their improved treatment for hundreds of years. Both natives and Spaniards appealed to the Real Audiencias for relief under the encomienda system. This caused a greater divide between the Spanish and the lower classes of the indigenous people. According to the new laws set in place by the Spanish crown, the indigenous people gained some status, albeit still lower than Spanish citizens. [12] This allowed the Spanish to maintain control over the indigenous people by allowing them to assume they would have some power coming from these new laws. However, these laws only tricked the indigenous people into agreeing to the encomienda system. They were allowed to live a more 'civilized' life among the Spanish but were under the impression they would eventually gain the ability to own land for themselves, which was never the intention of the Spanish citizens. [13]

The encomienda system brought many indigenous Taíno to work in the fields and mines in exchange for Spanish protection,[14] education, and a seasonal salary[15] under the pretense of searching for gold and other materials.[16] Many Spaniards took advantage of the regions now under the control of the laborious Spanish encomenderos to exploit the native population by seizing their land and wealth. It would take some time before the Native Americans revolted against their Spanish oppressors and many military campaigns before Spanish Emperor Charles V abolished the encomienda system as a form of slavery.[17][18] Raphael Lemkin, coiner of the term genocide, considers Spain's abuses of the Amerindian population in the Americas to constitute cultural and even outright genocide, including the abuses of the Encomienda system. He described slavery as "cultural genocide par excellence," noting that "it is the most effective and thorough method of destroying cultures and de-socializing human beings." He considers colonists guilty due to their failure to halt the abuses of the system despite royal orders.[19] Recent research suggests that the spread of old-world diseases appears to have been aggravated by the extreme climatic conditions of the time and by the poor living conditions and harsh treatment of the native people under the encomienda system of New Spain.[20] The primary death driver was work conditions that made any acquired sickness a death sentence, as workflow was expected to be maintained.

Enslaved Africans in Latin America

Punishing slaves in Brazil, by Johann Moritz Rugendas

The African influence on Latin American culture is deeply rooted and can be seen in various aspects such as music, dance, religion, and cuisine. Despite the harsh conditions of slavery, African slaves were able to preserve their cultural traditions. By the first decades of the sixteenth century, they were commonly participating in Spain's military expeditions.[21]

Because most slaves were baptized upon arrival to the New World, the Catholic Church did come to the defense of slaves. The Catholic Church accepted Africans as God's children, which is what led to the slaves being baptized. The Catholic Church mandated marriage between slaves in Latin America. This treatment of slaves differs greatly from the United States' treatment of slaves because, in the United States, marriage between slaves was outlawed. Despite owning slaves, the Catholic Church never embraced the racist justifications for slavery so common among Protestant denominations in the United States. However, the Church was far more willing to speak out against the enslavement of native peoples. ((Citation needed))People like Bartolome de las Casas were the driving forces for having Indian slavery abolished because they were fearful of the drastic decline of the native population. The Church did not speak out against African slavery in Latin America in quite the same way. [22]

The impact of slavery on culture is incredibly apparent in Latin America. The mixing of cultures and races provides the region with a rich history[21]

New Spain

Further information: Slavery in the Spanish New World colonies

See also: Afro-Mexicans

See also: Genízaro

Between 1502 and 1866, of the 11.2 million Africans taken, only 388,000 arrived in North America. The rest went to Brazil, the European colonies in the Caribbean and Spanish territories in Central and South America, in that order.[23] These slaves were brought as early as the 16th and 17th centuries.[24] The slaves would be forced to work in mines and on plantations. Today, most African communities live in coastal areas such as Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico and the Costa Chica region on the Pacific".[24]

Atlantic slave trade

Francisco Paulo de Almeida (1826-1901), first and only Baron of Guaraciaba, title granted by Princess Isabel.[25] Negro, he possessed one of the greatest fortunes of the imperial period, getting to own approximately one thousand slaves.[25] [26]

During the entire period of the Atlantic Slave Trade, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, in which slavery existed in the Americas, Brazil was responsible for importing 35 per cent of the slaves from Africa (4 million) while Spanish America imported about 20 per cent (2.5 million). These numbers are significantly higher than the number of slaves imported to the United States (less than 5 per cent). High death rates, an enormous number of runaway slaves and greater levels of granting slave freedom, called manumission, meant that Latin America and Caribbean societies had fewer slaves than the United States at any given time. However, they made up a higher percentage of the population throughout the colonial period. As a result of this higher percentage, the upper class of these societies constantly feared an uprising among not only slaves but Indians and the poor of all racial and ethnic groups.[27]

It was the capital of European merchants, rather than European states, which allowed the Atlantic Slave Trade to take shape in the early sixteenth century. For example, in exchange for granting loans in support of Charles V's election as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, the German Welser trading house was given immense privileges in the Americas by the Spanish crown, including a license to trade enslaved Africans.[28] Over the next two decades, many other European merchants would pay the Spanish crown for the right to import Africans as slaves to the Americas, further enmeshing unfree labor as a key factor in the colonial Latin American economy.[28] Into the eighteenth century, even as American elites began to take a role in the Atlantic trade, European-based traders remained at the heart of the slave trade. Lisbon-based traders, especially, were key to the continuation of the slave trade to Brazil in the 1700s because new forms of credit there allowed for even larger and more profitable slave voyages than had been possible before.[29]

Slavery in practice

Over 70 percent of slaves in Latin America worked on sugar cane plantations due to the importance of this crop to the economies there at the time. Slaves also worked in the production of tobacco, rice, cotton, fruit, corn, and other commodities. The majority of slaves brought to the Americas from Africa were men due to the fact plantation owners needed strength for the physical labor that was done in the fields. However, women were brought to the Caribbean islands to provide labor as well. Female slaves were often responsible for cutting cane, fertilizing plants, feeding cane stalks in mill grinders, tending garden vegetables, and looking after children. Men cut cane and worked in mills. They also worked as carpenters, blacksmiths, drivers, etc. In some cases, they were even part of the plantation's militia.[27]

Notably, despite mining's immense importance to the colonial economy, African slaves were rarely forced to work in the mines. This was partially due to the glut of Indians, both enslaved and free, who were available to work in the mines. Through practices such as encomienda, the repartimento and mita labor drafts, and later, wage labor, Spanish colonial authorities were able to compel Indians to participate in the backbreaking labor of the silver mines.[30] Specifically because of how labor-intensive and dangerous mining was, it would not have been nearly as profitable for Spanish elites to have forced enslaved Africans to work in the mines. If an Indian were killed or injured and no longer able to work they could be replaced by another Indian without any cost to the mine owners. However, if a slave were killed, or injured and thereby no longer able to work, that would represent a loss of capital to the slaveholder.[30]

Slavery and the Catholic Church

Slavery was part of the indigenous cultures much before the landfall of the Europeans in America. After Columbus made landfall in America in 1492, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I asked Pope Alexander VI to grant Spain the same authority over the American "Indies" that Portugal had over West Africa, so Spain would not be at a disadvantage in making use of her newly discovered territories. He did so in two bulls issued on 3 May 1493. The bulls included authority " invade, search out, capture, and subjugate ... any ... unbelievers ... wherever they may be ... and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery..."[31]

Although the Church was excited by the potential for huge numbers of conversions in the New World, the clergy sent there were often horrified by the methods used by the conquerors, and tensions between church and state in the new lands grew rapidly. The encomienda system of forced or tenured labor, begun in 1503, often amounted to slavery, though it was not full chattel slavery. The Leyes de Burgos ("Laws of Burgos"), issued by Ferdinand II on 27 December 1512, were the first set of rules created to control relations between the Spaniards and the recently conquered indigenous people. Though intended to improve the treatment of the Indians, they simply legalized and regulated the system of forced Indian labor. During the reign of Charles V, the reformers gained steam, with the Spanish missionary Bartolomé de las Casas as a notable leading advocate. His goal was the abolition of the encomienda system, which forced the Indians to abandon their previous lifestyle and destroyed their culture. His active role in the reform movement earned Las Casas the nickname "Defender of the Indians". He was able to influence the king, and the fruit of the reformers' labor was the New Laws of 1542. However, conquistadors led by Gonzalo Pizarro (half-brother of Francisco Pizarro) revolted in protest, and the alarmed government revised the Laws to be much weaker to appease them. Continuing armed indigenous resistance, for example in the Mixtón War (1540–41) and the Chichimeca War of 1550, resulted in the full enslavement of thousands of captives, often out of the control of the Spanish government.

The second Archbishop of Mexico (1551–72), the Dominican Alonso de Montúfar, wrote to the king in 1560 protesting the importation of Africans, and questioning the "justness" of enslaving them. Tomás de Mercado was a theologian and economist of the School of Salamanca who had lived in Mexico and whose 1571 Summa de Tratos y Contratos ("Manual of Deals and Contracts") was scathing about the morality of the enslavement of Africans in practice, though he accepted "just-title" slaves in theory.

Pressure for the end of slavery and forced labor among the indigenous Indians worked to increase the demand for African slaves to do the work instead. Rodrigo de Albornoz, a layman, was a former secretary to Charles V sent as an official to New Spain, who opposed the treatment of the indigenous, though himself importing 150 African slaves. Las Casas also supported the importation of African slaves as preferable to Amerindian forced labor, although he later changed his mind about this[citation needed].

Slave families

Slave families among the enslaved in Latin America contributed to various changes on plantations with regards to relationships. Slave families benefited both the enslaved and the enslaver. For the enslaved, the concept of community and relationship was crucial in making life tolerable, while producing and committing to their duties on the plantations that they worked. Within the coffee plantations of the Paraiba Valley, the Brazilian economic center from 1822-1889, the presence of the slave family was very significant in terms of not only population but their purpose.[32] For the enslaver, the acceptance and use of slave families brought peace and stability to the plantations and farms that they owned. This was done by allowing slaves the freedom to produce relationships, as well as to freely practice culture and social activities such as singing, praying, dancing, chatting, rest, and community meals.[32] The concept of slave communities led to the belief that the plantation would be peaceful, but also more successful, as rebellions and general disturbances, a typical concern among plantation owners, would be less of an issue. The plantation communities are a similar concept to Maroons, although major differences include purpose and place. The planation communities created through family ties and shared hardships, along with other fractional freedoms received from the enslavers, allowed for the coffee plantations within Paraiba to produce high profit and productivity. Enslavers would often promote slave families, as they would gain the benefit of the production of new laborers, through the courtship of the enslaved.[32] This was most common on plantations with higher populations, as it was easier to pair off the enslaved due to the greater balance between the sexes within the population.[32] However, it seems unlikely that the plantations with lower population wouldn’t do the same. Increased morale, through slave communities created a more balance relationship between the enslaved and the enslaver, as well as labor and profit. Slave families and relationships of the 19th century marked a drastic change in slavery, as just a few centuries prior, slave marriages and relationships among slaves were believed to be the source of crime, social unrest, maroonage and rebellion throughout the slave populations.[33]

The slave communities also benefited from the senzala. The senzala brought together and kept slave communities connected. These community style homes were common among the fazendas in Latin America, and were made up of mainly earthy materials. The typical structure consisted of and used the wattle and daub building style, had thatched roofs, and beaten earth floors. Some senzalas were more finished and had tile roofs and finished floors. It was typical for most senzalas to be divided into separate 9-12 meter square cubicles, so that each family had their own space.[32] The close conditions of these homes made it easy for the enslaved to further connect and develop the community-style relationship that was at the forefront of the fazendas and plantation system of Latin America. As stated by Flávto dos Santos Gomes, author of Africans and Slave Marriages in Eighteenth-century Rio de Janeiro: "Family arrangements and forms of compadrio helped slaves invent identities related to the communities in which they lived."[34]

Wet Nurses

Wet nurses are just one of the many reason women were at the forefront of the slave system. Wet nurses were typically enslaved women of African origin who helped care for the families that owned them, with a heavy focus on care for the slave owner's children. The duties performed by these nurses included breastfeeding, general care for the master's children which included hygiene and health, as well as household chores to keep up with the enslaver's personal home. Some of which included ironing, laundry, sewing, hairdressing, and cooking.[35] The concept and use of the wet nurse was very prevalent in 19th century Brazil. Due to their importance, many wet nurses were integrated into members of the enslavers personal family.[35] This concept is similar to that of the modern day nanny. Slave relationships, especially marriage began to decrease in frequency towards the end of the 19th century.[36] One of the factors being that enslaved women began to become more involved with their owners, seemingly due to the demand of their nursing duties. This demand brought the enslaver and enslaved quite literally closer together, allowing for these unlikely relationships to develop. According to a 1872 census in Ilhéus, the relationships between slave and enslaver were still atypical as only 12.5% of the population was mixed or pardo.[36] The percentage was small, but still large enough to effect and disrupt the relationships and family life of the enslaved populations.

Slave Mothers and Women

Slave mothers endured many difficulties throughout the process of Latin American slavery, including fighting for the freedom of their children, and the freedom for themselves. Slave mothers for centuries were denied motherhood and freedom, forced to watch their children enter an era of chattel slavery, described by Barbara Bush, author of African Caribbean Slave Mothers and Children: Traumas of Dislocation and Enslavement Across the Atlantic World: as being born into "a womb of iron and gold".[37] For mothers and slave families alike, a time of relief and change was long overdue. The end of the 19th century provided this through a new means of legal freedom. Havana and Rio de Janeiro are historically known for their heavy use of slavery and slave institutions, but also for the freedom that they provided. Havana and Rio de Janeiro provided slaves with the opportunity for freedom, an opportunity that happened to be used most by enslaved women.[38] These cities, known for there "urban freedom" that captivated the enslaved from all around Latin America to come and make freedom claims.[38] Starting in 1870, gradual and legal abolition was administered from these major cities. Havana and Rio were home to major legal and political institutions, which included the Brazilian national parliament and appeals court located in Rio, and the Spanish Governor General and colonial offices of Havana.[38] Escaping slaves flocked to these "urban freedom" centers in hopes of freedom. When reviewing the claims for freedom made in these cities, it is apparent that women were at the forefront of the search for legalized freedom. A database created by Keila Grinburg provides data that supports this trend. Among thirty cases of freedom claims made in Rio between 1871 and 1888, 27 were done by women (90%). This was an improvement from data collected from 1850-1870 where sixteen out of 34 (47%) claims were done by women. Grinburg had a wider selection of Cuban data, that shows that of the 710 claims made between 1870-1886 in Havana, 452 were women (64%). Within the same timeline and also in Havana 130 appeals were made on behalf of another person, that was most often than not for children. Of the 130 appeals, 105 were made by women (81%).[38] Latin American women dominated legalized abolition in the late 19th century. The trend of women dominating legal freedom could be attributed to reasons, including, escaping vial relationships from slave owners, a mother's instincts to care for her children, or superior knowledge of the slave court system during this time.

Slave resistance

As in any slave society, enslaved people in Latin America resisted their oppressors and often sought to establish their communities outside of Hispanic control. In addition to more passive forms of resistance, such as intentional work slowdowns, the colonial period in Latin America saw the birth of numerous autonomous communities of runaway slaves. In Brazil, where the majority of the enslaved people in Latin America were concentrated, these communities were called mocambos or quilombos, words which came from the Mbundu language which was widely spoken in the regions of Angola from which many of the enslaved people in Brazil were taken.[39] These communities were often located in proximity to population centres or plantations, as they largely relied on activities such as highway theft and raids to sustain themselves. Mocambos were also often assisted by Black people still residing in towns, such as in the city of Salvador, where Black people living in the city aided the residents of a nearby Mocambo by helping them enter the city at night to purchase gunpowder and shot.[39] From what historical evidence is available, it appears that, in most cases, the aims of most Mocambos were not an overthrow of the colonial system, but merely their continued existence outside of white society.[39]

Bust of Zumbi dos Palmares, the last king of the quilombo of Palmares.


Main article: Palmares (quilombo)

One of the most powerful quilombos in colonial Brazil was the settlement of Palmares, located in the remote captaincy of Pernambuco.[40] Palmares were much longer-lasting than many of the other quilombos in Brazil. Despite continued efforts to destroy it, Palmares survived for almost the entire seventeenth century, until its eventual destruction at the hands of the Portuguese colonial government in 1694[39]—a few of its inhabitants were able to hold out for a few more years, but Palmares was reported as "almost extinct" by 1697.[40] At its height, Palmares is said to have had as many as 20,000 inhabitants, although this number is disputed by historians, some of whom argue that the true population of Palmares was closer to 11,000.[39] Like other quilombos, the inhabitants of Palmares did not seek the overthrow of the colonial system. In 1678, faced with increasing military pressure from the Portuguese, the king of Palmares, Ganga Zumba, offered to swear loyalty to the Portuguese Crown in exchange for a recognition of the quilombo's freedom. The Portuguese took Zumba's offer, and then immediately reneged on its terms, continuing their military expeditions against Palmares until its eventual destruction.[39]

Wealthy African-descended women

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In New Spain

Further information: Slavery in New Spain

Slaveholders, slaves and freed slaves of West and Central African descent were the most watched people in the societies of New Spain, the explanations differ but there is the repetitive correlation between status, family and economic stability that women during this time endured. West and Central African slaves were still prominent in Spanish colonies, however, a rise in societal class was forming: free wealthy West and Central African women, who owned slaves themselves.[41] As status and elegance were a major definer in the Spanish culture, it became apparent what was setting these West and Central African-descent people apart was how they dressed as opposed to the elegance in fabrics, jewels and other prestige items. Freedom becomes more popular for those descended people, forcing them to figure out how to take care of their families' needs from an economical standpoint and statues was a primary factor in their drive towards wealth.[41] Polonia de Ribas was one of many other famous West and Central African-descended slave-owning women, who challenged the predetermined gender roles of men in the family realm and for free women who were not supposed to obtain these luxuries post-freedom. As a result of the trading that was happening from the Atlantic slave trade, many women took the opportunity to purchase slaves to set up their financial stability but in Polonia's case, she was gifted two slaves following her manumission which helped her immensely.[41] Slaves were easily the most expensive item to purchase during that time, not the equipment or the plantation but the slaves, so imagine how financially detrimental it was if one of their slaves would die. It was said that many women used politics in their slave-owning practices but Polonia's additional financial investments helped further her success in her life and other West and Central African-descent slaveowners. Financial investments like working or owning inns since these Spanish colonies were centred around trade, and loaning money to neighbors but she always kept an official notarial account which accounted for all loans and debts; this is important for historians' research. The women often profited from the doweries that were given to them through the marriage of their husbands, this was another way in which women would be set up with economical status while ensuring a life provided.[41] Slave-owning by women of West and Central African -descent was said to be just a way of supporting their families when no husband was present but it could also have something to do with the lust and the want to be a part of this society that has oppressed them constantly.[41]

In Peru

As seen in the previous section, the main focus is status in society, post-freedom of enslaved women but in Peru, status is closely correlated to its relationship with clothing because of the power it held in an ethically diverse, slaveholding society. It seems absurd that one would enslave after being enslaved but it was because of the "aesthetic" behind having slaves, the exceptionalism one attains within societal eyes when being an owner of slaves.[42] In Peru, the separation in classes and hierarchies was something that Spaniards did not take lightly because they felt an elite sense of European dominance, which was the focal point in the city of Lima when Spaniards wanted to assert dominance over the way that African-descended women dressed and what their clothing signified.[42] African women whether free or not began to have stipulations on what they were to wear through sumptuary laws enforced by white Limeños, trying to secure that autonomy would not be achieved by their oppressors. These laws allowed for only Spanish and elite women were able to wear elegant clothing, gold, silver, silk and slippers with silver bells on them. These laws targeted slave owners and slaves, making sure that they had that separation in classes. Slaves could not afford to wear clothes like that so they must be stealing, this was the thought process of the Spanish lawmakers. If freed women looked like Spanish women then how would you tell them apart, it was considered trickery and they were scrutinized for it so the solution was to wear wool.[42] As clothing does gain more societal popularity and significance, showing the means/wealth of a person but now in a very public fashion. Slaveowners decided that their slaves needed to be dressed in rich clothing to maintain and articulate this elite presence in what is called livery.[42] For freed African-descent women, they were not supposed to dress like elite Spanish but since they were not the targeted subject, they were able to wear skirts and blouses made of lace.

In Colombia

Further information: Slavery in Colombia

In Cartagena, clothing and fashion were also at their prime when trying to distinguish between the elite, freed slaves and slaves, but in this culture. It was because African-descent women were being provocative in the way they dressed so nicely while performing common tasks, whether at home or in public, being referred to as "brash and disruptive."[43] Fear is what drove the Holy Office to perform such intense trials when condemning these women because they did not want their people taking control of them. African-descended women were renounced because of their love magic that correlated with the witch trials that were happening during that time. African women were standing out because they were wealthy, the disruption that was seen as a sin or a distraction was just African women wearing clothes made of materials that only elites were to wear.[43] It did not matter whether or not you were wealthy, this was just an expressive way for enslaved and freed slaves to show their individuality, regardless of another oppressor.[43] "Mostly well-off nonwhite women who could not claim the honorable statues of wealthy Española's still dressed as if they were rich and lived in luxury."[43] The passing down of these fine clothes and jewels only aided the future generations to continue this stand against oppression.

20th century


Yaqui prisoners in Mexico, c. 1910

Although on September 16, 1825, President Guadalupe Victoria, on the occasion of the Independence celebrations, ordered the erection of a stage in front of the Diputación, whose words engraved in wood expressed the right to freedom for slaves,[44] Mexicans, the majority of whom were indigenous people from all parts of the Mexican Republic, continued to be segregated and used as slaves until the end of the Mexican Revolution.

During the deportation of Yaqui under the Porfiriato, the Mexican government established large concentration camps in San Marcos, where the remaining Yaqui families were broken up and segregated.[45][46] Individuals were then sold into slavery from inside the station and packed into train cars which took them to Veracruz, where they have embarked yet again for the port town of Progreso in the Yucatán. There they were transported to their final destination, the nearby henequen plantations.[45]

By 1908, at least 5,000 Yaqui had been sold into slavery.[45][46] At Valle Nacional, the enslaved Yaquis worked until they died.[45] While there were occasional escapes, the escapees were far from home and without support or assistance, most of them died of hunger while begging for food on the road out of the valley toward Córdoba.[45]

At Guaymas, thousands more Yaquis were put on boats and shipped to San Blas, where they were forced to walk more than 200 miles (322 km) to San Marcos and its train station.[45] Many women and children could not withstand the three-week journey over the mountains and their bodies were left by the side of the road.[45] Yaquis, particularly children, were rattled off in train cars to be sold as slaves in this process having one or two die simply in the process of deportation. The deaths were mostly caused by unfettered smallpox epidemics.[47]

On the plantations, the Yaquis were forced to work in the tropical climate of the area from dawn to dusk.[45] Yaqui women were allowed to marry only non-native Chinese workers.[45] Given little food and the workers were beaten if they failed to cut and trim at least 2,000 henequen leaves per day, after which they were then locked up every night.[45] Most of the Yaqui men, women and children sent for slave labor on the plantations died there, with two-thirds of the arrivals dying within a year.[45]


Enslaved Amazon Indians in 1912

The Amazon rubber boom and the associated need for an increasing workforce had a significant negative effect on the indigenous population across Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. As rubber plantations grew, labor shortages increased. The owners of the plantations or rubber barons were rich, but those who collected the rubber made very little, due to a large amount of rubber that was needed to be profitable. The rubber barons rounded up all the Indians and forced them to tap rubber out of the trees. One plantation started with 50,000 Indians, but when discovered, only 8,000 were still alive. Slavery and systematic brutality were widespread and in some areas, 90% of the Indian population was wiped out. These rubber plantations were part of the Brazilian rubber market, which declined as rubber plantations in Southeast Asia became more effective.[48]

Roger Casement, an Irishman traveling the Putumayo region of Peru as a British consul during 1910–1911 documented the abuse, slavery, murder, and use of stocks for torture against the native Indians: "The crimes charged against many men now in the employ of the Peruvian Amazon Company are of the most atrocious kind, including murder, violation, and constant flogging."[49]

According to Wade Davis, author of One River: "The horrendous atrocities that were unleashed on the Indian people of the Amazon during the height of the rubber boom were like nothing that had been seen since the first days of the Spanish Conquest."[50] Rubber had catastrophic effects in parts of Upper Amazonia, but its impact should not be exaggerated nor extrapolated to the whole region. The Putumayo genocide was a particularly horrific case, and the Putumayo was also the only region subjected to a systematic inquiry or investigation during the rubber boom. Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald led violent slave raids against Asháninka, Mashco, Piro, Conibo, Harákmbut and other native groups around the Ucayali, Urubamba, and Manu Rivers between 1880-1897.[51] Carlos Scharff exploited and enslaved Yine, Machiguenga, Amahuaca, Yaminahua,[52] Mashco, Piro, and other native groups[53] along the Jurua, Purus, and later Las Piedras River until he was killed in 1909 during a mutiny.[54] Slave raids that were carried out by employees of Nicolás Suárez Callaú led to the destruction of homes, and further persecutions against natives around the Beni and Mamore Rivers.[55]

Shortly after their arrival, the rubber barons began their incursions, a bloody method of obtaining indigenous labour by which, with the support of already-conquered indigenous groups, they would make armed forays into nearby hamlets. They would capture women and youths in particular, who formed precious trading objects, whilst adult men were eliminated as they would never form as malleable a workforce as the children, who were more easily and fully assimilated [56][a] In these circumstances, the high death rate and family disintegration caused panic among the mainly native populations, some of whom chose to flee.

— Beatriz Huertas Castillo, Indigenous Peoples in Isolation in the Peruvian Amazon: Their Struggle for Survival and Freedom[58]

Many nearby rubber regions were not ruled by physical violence, but by the voluntary compliance implicit in patron-peon relations. Some native peoples benefited financially from their dealings with the white merchants. Others chose not to participate in the rubber business and stayed away from the main rivers, because tappers worked in near-complete isolation; they were not burdened by overseers and timetables. In Brazil, tappers could and did, adulterate rubber cargoes by adding sand and flour to the rubber "balls", before sending them downriver. Flight into the thicket was a successful survival strategy and because Indians were engaged in credit relations, it was a relatively common practice to vanish and work for other patrons, leaving debts unpaid.[59]

See also


  1. ^ "They would capture women and youths in particular, who formed precious trading objects, whilst adult men were eliminated as they would never form as malleable a workforce as the children, who were more easily and fully assimilated".[57]



  1. ^ ":: Welcome to Born in Blood & Fire - Second Edition - Student Website ::". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  2. ^ "Emancipation in Latin America and the Caribbean |". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  3. ^ Schmidt-Nowara, Christopher (2011-06-22). Slavery, Freedom, and Abolition in Latin America and the Atlantic World. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-3905-8.
  4. ^ Burkholder, Mark A.; Johnson, Lyman L. (2019). Colonial Latin America (Tenth ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 10, 15. ISBN 978-0-19-064240-2. OCLC 1015274908.
  5. ^ "Estimates". Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  6. ^ Maude, Henry Evans (1981). Slavers in paradise: the Peruvian labour trade in Polynesia, 1862-1864.
  7. ^ James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press 138.
  8. ^ Ida Altman, et al., The Early History of Greater Mexico, Pearson, 2003, p. 47
  9. ^ Rodriguez, Junius P. (2007). Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion. Vol. 1. Abc-Clio, LLC. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-313-33272-2.
  10. ^ [Meade, Teresa A. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Chichester (U.K.): Wiley-Blackwell., 2016.]
  11. ^ Ida Altman, et al., The Early History of Greater Mexico, Pearson, 2003, 143
  12. ^ [Meade, Teresa A. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Chichester (U.K.): Wiley-Blackwell., 2016.]
  13. ^ [Meade, Teresa A. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Chichester (U.K.): Wiley-Blackwell., 2016.]
  14. ^ Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (July 2009). De Orbe Novo, the Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. BiblioBazaar. p. 112. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  15. ^ Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (July 2009). De Orbe Novo, The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. BiblioBazaar. p. 182. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  16. ^ Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (July 2009). De Orbe Novo, the Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. BiblioBazaar. p. 111. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  17. ^ Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (July 2009). De Orbe Novo, The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. BiblioBazaar. p. 143. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  18. ^ David M. Traboulay (1994). Columbus and Las Casas: the conquest and Christianization of America, 1492–1566. University Press of America. p. 44. ISBN 9780819196422. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  19. ^ U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: Raphael Lemkin's History of Genocide and Colonialism
  20. ^ Acuna-Soto, Rodolfo; Stahle, D. W.; Cleaveland, M. K.; Therrell, M. D. (2002). "Megadrought and Megadeath in 16th Century Mexico". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 8 (4): 360–362. doi:10.3201/eid0804.010175. PMC 2730237. PMID 11971767.
  21. ^ a b "Slavery In America". slavery2003 JOURNAL. Retrieved 2014-10-03.
  22. ^ Meade, Teresa A. "A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present." pp. 118-119. Chichester (U.K.): Wiley-Blackwell., 2016.
  23. ^ Eltis, David; Richardson, David. "Search the Voyages Website". Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. Emory University. Archived from the original on 25 March 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  24. ^ a b Gates, Jr., Henry Louis (2011). Black in Latin America. NYU. ISBN 9780814732984.
  25. ^ a b Barretto Briso, Caio (16 November 2014). "Um barão negro, seu palácio e seus 200 escravos". O Globo. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  26. ^ Lopes, Marcus (15 July 2018). "A história esquecida do 1º barão negro do Brasil Império, senhor de mil escravos". BBC. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  27. ^ a b Meade, Teresa A. (2016). History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Wiley Blackwell.
  28. ^ a b Roth, Julia (2017). "Sugar and slaves: The Augsburg Welser as conquerors of America and colonial foundational myths". Atlantic Studies. 14 (4): 438–458. doi:10.1080/14788810.2017.1365279. ISSN 1478-8810. S2CID 165476141.
  29. ^ Bohorquez, J.; Menz, Maximiliano (2018). "State Contractors and Global Brokers: The Itinerary of Two Lisbon Merchants and the Transatlantic Slave Trade during the Eighteenth Century". Itinerario. 42 (3): 403–429. doi:10.1017/S0165115318000608. ISSN 0165-1153. S2CID 165307693.
  30. ^ a b Bakewell, Peter (1984), "Mining in colonial Spanish America", in Bethell, Leslie (ed.), Volume 2: Colonial Latin America, The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 2, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 105–152, doi:10.1017/chol9780521245166.005, ISBN 978-0-521-24516-6, retrieved 2020-12-07
  31. ^ Maxwell, John Francis (1975). Slavery and the Catholic Church: the history of Catholic teaching concerning the moral legitimacy of the institution of slavery. Rose [for] the Anti-Slavery Society for the Protection of Human Rights. p. 55. ISBN 0859920151.
  32. ^ a b c d e Salles, Ricardo; Muaze, Mariana (2023-07-31), "Agrarian Empires, Plantation Communities, and Slave Families in a Nineteenth-Century Brazilian Coffee Zone", The Boundaries of Freedom, Cambridge University Press, pp. 83–107, doi:10.1017/9781108917537.004, ISBN 978-1-009-28796-8
  33. ^ McKinley, Michelle (2010-07-28). "Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Legal Activism, and Ecclesiastical Courts in Colonial Lima, 1593–1689". Law and History Review. 28 (3): 749–790. doi:10.1017/s0738248010000623. ISSN 0738-2480. S2CID 143665714.
  34. ^ Flávio dos Santos Gomes (2010). "Africans and Slave Marriages in Eighteenth-century Rio de Janeiro". The Americas. 67 (2): 153–184. doi:10.1353/tam.2010.0022. ISSN 1533-6247.
  35. ^ a b Muaze, Mariana (2023-07-31), "Motherhood Silenced", The Boundaries of Freedom, Cambridge University Press, pp. 108–127, doi:10.1017/9781108917537.005, ISBN 978-1-009-28796-8.
  36. ^ a b Mahony, M. A. (2008-03-01). "Creativity under Constraint: Enslaved Afro-Brazilian Families in Brazil's Cacao Area, 1870-1890". Journal of Social History. 41 (3): 633–666. doi:10.1353/jsh.2008.0050. ISSN 0022-4529. S2CID 144306152.
  37. ^ Bush, Barbara (March 2010). "African Caribbean Slave Mothers and Children: Traumas of Dislocation and Enslavement Across the Atlantic World". Caribbean Quarterly. 56 (1–2): 69–94. doi:10.1080/00086495.2010.11672362. S2CID 141289167.
  38. ^ a b c d Cowling, Camillia (2013-12-20), "As A Slave Woman and as a Mother", Conceiving Freedom, University of North Carolina Press, pp. 295–311, doi:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469610870.003.0004, ISBN 9781469610870
  39. ^ a b c d e f Schwartz, Steven (1992). "Rethinking Palmares: Slave Resistance in Colonial Brazil". Slaves, peasants, and rebels: reconsidering Brazilian slavery. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 103–137.
  40. ^ a b Ennes, Ernesto (2018). "The Palmares "Republic" of Pernambuco: Its Final Destruction, 1697". The Americas. 75 (1): 200–216. ISSN 1533-6247.
  41. ^ a b c d e Williams, Danielle Terrazas (July 2018). ""My Conscience is Free and Clear": African-Descended Women, Status, and Slave Owning in Mid-Colonial Mexico". The Americas. 75 (3): 525–554. doi:10.1017/tam.2018.32. ISSN 0003-1615.
  42. ^ a b c d Walker, Tamara J. (2017), "Ladies, Gentlemen, Slaves, and Citizens", Exquisite Slaves, Cambridge University Press, pp. 145–164, doi:10.1017/9781316018781.007, ISBN 9781316018781
  43. ^ a b c d Few, Martha (February 2015). "Nicolevon Germeten. Violent Delights, Violent Ends: Sex, Race, and Honor in Colonial Cartagena de Indias". The American Historical Review. 120 (1): 302–303. doi:10.1093/ahr/120.1.302. ISSN 1937-5239.
  44. ^ México a través de los siglos : historia general y completa del desenvolvimiento social, pol. University of California Libraries. 1888.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Turner, J. K. (1910). Barbarous Mexico. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company. pp. 41–77. OCLC 914703209.
  46. ^ a b Spicer, pp. 80–82.
  47. ^ Paco Ignacio Taibo II, documenta el brutal genocidio yaqui en nuestro país
  48. ^ Why do they hide?, Survival International:
  49. ^ Survival International: Horrific treatment of Amazon Indians exposed 100 years ago today
  50. ^ Raffaele, Paul (2018-11-13). The Rainforest Survivors: Adventures Among Today's Stone Age Jungle Tribes. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-5107-3713-6.
  51. ^ Varese 2004, p. 106.
  52. ^ Huertas Castillo 2004, p. 53.
  53. ^ Hecht 2013, p. 482.
  54. ^ de Wolf, John (1910). "Indians kill a 'cauchero'". India Rubber World. 43: 122.
  55. ^ Rummenhöller, Klaus (2003). Los Pueblos Indígenas de Madre de Dios. Historia, etnografía y coyuntura. p. 157.
  56. ^ Hassel, Georg (1907). Ultimas exploraciones ordenadas por la Junta de Vías Fluviales a los ríos Ucayali, Madre de Dios, Paucartambo y Urubamba. Lima, Perú, Oficina Tipográfica de "La Opinión Nacional," 1907. p. 63.
  57. ^ Hassel, Georg (1907). Ultimas exploraciones ordenadas por la Junta de Vías Fluviales a los ríos Ucayali, Madre de Dios, Paucartambo y Urubamba. Lima, Perú, Oficina Tipográfica de "La Opinión Nacional," 1907. p. 63.
  58. ^ Huertas Castillo 2004, p. 52.
  59. ^ Moreno Tejada, Jaime (2016). "Rhythms of Everyday Trade: Local Mobilities at the Peruvian-Ecuadorian Contact Zone during the Rubber Boom (c. 1890-1912)". Asian Journal of Latin American Studies. 29 (1): 57–82.

Further reading

  • Aguirre Beltrán, Gonzalo. La población negra de México, 1519-1810. Mexico City: Fuente Cultural 1946.
  • Aimes, Hubert H.S. A History of Slavery in Cuba, 1511-1868. New York: Octagon Books 1967.
  • Bennett, Herman Lee. Africans in Colonial Mexico. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2005.
  • Blanchard, Peter, Under the flags of freedom : slave soldiers and the wars of independence in Spanish South America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, c2008.
  • Bowser, Frederick. The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1974.
  • Carroll, Patrick J. Blacks in Colonial Veracruz: Race, Ethnicity, and Regional Development. Austin: University of Texas Press 1991.
  • Conrad, Robert Edgar. World of Sorrow: The African Slave Trade to Brazil. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press 1986.
  • Curtin, Philip. The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1969.
  • Foner, Laura and Eugene D. Genovese, eds. Slavery in the New World: A Reader in Comparative History. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall 1969.
  • Flusche, Della and Eugene H. Korth. Forgotten Females: Women of African and Indian Descent in Colonial Chile, 1535-1800. Detroit: B.Ethridge 1983.
  • Freyre, Gilberto. The Masters and the Slaves: A Study of the Development of Brazilian Civilization. 2nd ed. Trans. Samuel Putnam. New York: Knopf 1966.
  • Fuente, Alejandro de la. "From Slaves to Citizens? Tannenbaum and the Debates on Slavery, Emancipation, and Race Relations in Latin America," International Labor and Working-Class History 77 no. 1 (2010) 154-73.
  • Fuente, Alejandro de la. "Slaves and the Creation of Legal Rights in Cuba: Coartación and Papel," Hispanic American Historical Review 87, no. 4 (2007): 659-92.
  • Geggus, David Patrick. "Slave Resistance in the Spanish Caribbean in the Mid-1790s," in A Turbulent Time: The French Revolutionn and the Greater Caribbean, David Barry Gaspar and David Patrick Geggus. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1997, pp. 130–55.
  • Gibbings, Julie. "In the Shadow of Slavery: Historical Time, Labor, and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century Alta Verapaz, Guatemala," Hispnaic American Historical Review 96.1, (February 2016): 73-107.
  • Helg, Aline, Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770-1835. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2004.
  • Heuman, Gad and Trevor Graeme Burnard, eds. The Routledge History of Slavery. New York: Taylor and Francis 2011.
  • Hünefeldt, Christine. Paying the Price of Freedom: Family and Labor among Lima's Slaves, 1800-1854. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press 1994.
  • Johnson, Lyman L. "A Lack of Legitimate Obedience and Respect: Slaves and Their Masters in the Courts of Late Colonial Buenos Aires," Hispanic American Historical Review 87, no. 4 (2007) 631-57.
  • Klein, Herbert S. The Middle Passage: Comparative Studies in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1978.
  • Landers, Jane. Black Society in Spanish Florida. Urbana: University of Illinois Press 1999.
  • Landers, Jane and Barry Robinson, eds. Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives: Blacks in Colonial Latin America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2006.
  • Love, Edgar F. "Negro Resistance to Spanish Rule in Colonial Mexico," Journal of Negro History 52, no. 2 (April 1967) 89-103.
  • Martínez, María Elena. "The Black Blood of New Spain: Limpieza de Sangre, Racial Violence, and Gendered Power in Early Colonial Mexico," William and Mary Quarterly 61, no. 3 (July 2004), 479-520.
  • Restall, Matthew, and Jane Landers, "The African Experience in Early Spanish America," The Americas 57, no. 2 (2000) 167-70.
  • Mattoso, Katia M. De Queiros. To be a Slave in Brazil, 1550-1888. Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press 1979.
  • Miller, Joseph C. Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1988.
  • Palmer, Colin. Slaves of the White God. Blacks in Mexico 1570-1650. Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1976.
  • Palmer, Colin. Human Cargoes: The British Slave Trade to Spanish America, 1700-1739. Urbana: University of Illinois Press 1981.
  • Rout, Leslie B. The African Experience in Spanish America, 1502 to the Present Day. New York: Cambridge University Press 1976.
  • Russell-Wood, A. J. R. The Black Man in Slavery and Freedom in Colonial Brazil. New York: St Martin's Press 1982.
  • Schwartz, Stuart B. Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia 1550-1835. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1985.
  • Sharp, William Frederick. Slavery on the Spanish Frontier: The Colombian Chocó, 1680-1810. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1976.
  • Solow, Barard I. ed., Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991.
  • Tannenbaum, Frank. Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the Americas. New York Vintage Books 1947.
  • Toplin, Robert Brent. Slavery and Race Relations in Latin America. Westport CT: Greenwood Press 1974.
  • Vinson, Ben, III and Matthew Restall, eds. Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2009.
  • Walker, Tamara J. "He Outfitted His Family in Notable Decency: Slavery, Honour, and Dress in Eighteenth-Century Lima, Peru," Slavery & Abolition 30, no. 3 (2009) 383-402.