Slavery in Latin America

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Slavery in Latin America is about the history of the slave trade in Latin America (which includes French, Portuguese, and Spanish Colonies) and how it has affected modern day Latin America and the Casta System used by Spain.

Slavery in Spanish Speaking America[edit]

After Mexico, Central and South America had been conquered, Spain and Portugal and later France, wanted to develop an economy built off of slavery to provide wealth to the monarchy nations. The African presence in Latin America has a profound affect on the culture across South America. Black slaves arrived in America during the early stages of exploration and settlement. By the first decades of the sixteenth century they were commonly participating in Spain's military expeditions.[1]

As the agriculture of sugar and coffee increasesd, so did the demand for slaves.

Life was harsh for the slave in Latin America. Some slaves had more freedoms than the slaves of North America. Marriage was allowed in some areas and some slaves were even taught to read and write. In fact, Colonial Brazil had the highest recorded number of legal marriages among slaves in Latin America.[1]

Whether in the city or on a plantation, slaves were at the mercy of their owners. Runaways were a regular occurrence and suicide was an answer for some. Because most slaves were baptized upon arrival to the New World, the Catholic Church did come to the defense of slaves. Some brotherhoods raised money to purchase the freedom of some of their slave members. Although the church owned slaves themselves, they never embraced the racist justifications for slavery so common among Protestant denominations in the United States.[1]

The impact of slavery in culture is greatly apparent in Latin America. The mixing of cultures and races provides a rich history to be studied. [1]


According to the television series, Black in Latin America,[2] Mexico and Peru, combined, imported more African slaves than the United States. In fact, Between 1502 and 1866 of the 11.2 million Africans, only 450,000 arrived in the United States. The rest arrived in Latin American countries, including Mexico.[3] These slaves were brought as early as the 16th and 17th centuries.[4] The evidence of the African population is not readily apparent due to the mixing of the indigenous population, Africans, and European peoples and the early inception of African slaves into the Mexican society.[4] According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s film on the slave trade in Mexico, the integration of African peoples was so pervasive that every Mexican has an "African grandma hiding in their closet." The slaves would be forced to work in mines and plantations. Today, the most phenotypically African communities live in coastal towns, "Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Chica region on the Pacific".[5] Every country in the Americas dealt with slavery differently, depending upon whether the slave trade supported a plantation economy, or another form of economic exploitation. As a result, the manifestation of African peoples in these countries creates unique narratives of the African experience in the Americas, Mexico included.

Central America[edit]

During the arrival of the Spaniards in Central America, the Mayans were starting to collapse and there weren't many Armendinan slaves available. In Guatemala, Honduras (including Belize), Nicaragua and Costa Rica many slaves to work in the banana and sugar-cane plantations.


  1. ^ a b c d "Slavery In America". slavery2003 JOURNAL. Retrieved 2014-10-03. 
  2. ^ "Black in Latin America". Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Eltis, David; Richardson, David. "Search the Voyages Website". Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. Emory University. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Gates, Jr., Henry Louis (2011). Black in Latin America. NYU. ISBN 9780814732984. 
  5. ^ Gates, Jr., Henry Louis (2011). Bllack in Latin America. NYU. ISBN 9780814732984. 

External links[edit]

Slavery in the Americas