History of Latin America
Week 3: Africans in Colonial Latin America

Lecture outline
Readings: **"Becoming Legally White in Venezuela";
**Montejo, “A Cuban Slave's Testimony”

Current events topic due in class Thursday!
and the
study guide for next Tuesday's quiz

“African workers of the Canal de Vento,” a picture taken by French doctor Henri Dumont in the 1860s in Cuba. These men were probably captured on slave ships, then nominally freed by the Spanish and forced to labor on public works. Image reproduced in Rebecca J. Scott, Slave Emancipation in Cuba : The Transition to Free Labor, 1860-1899 (Princeton , NJ : Princeton University Press, 1985).

We'll talk in class about maroon communities and about the kinds of sources available for learning or guessing more about them, but Palmares is the only one with much on the Web.

A nice site on historical tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti;
And finally, on Haitian and Haitian-American history, with provocative caricatures of Toussaint Louverture and the mid-19c Haitian leader Soulouque.

For those of you planning to be engineers, in Mexico or elsewhere, listen here.


A key aspect of Latin American slavery is that drawing on traditions of Iberian slavery, in many places Spanish and Portuguese America quickly gained a free black population equal or larger than its slave population:

Iberian and non-Iberian Slave Societies in the 1780s
Country Slaves Free Blacks Percent Free


3,500 33,000 90%
Cacao zone of Ven.: 64,000 198,000 76%
New Granada: 80,000 420,000 84%
Santo Domingo: 15,000 80,000 84%
Minas Gerais, Brazil 40.9% 33.7%
Bahia, Brazil 47% 31.6%
Pernambuco, Brazil 26.2% 42%
Brazil overall 34.5% 31.4%
Haiti (Saint Dominique)/
575,000 30,000 5%
USA in 1790: 660,000 32,000 4.6%

Think about what different ideas about "blackness" and "whiteness" might exist in a slave society that included large numbers of free black people engaged in a huge range of occupations--as opposed to one where being "black" generally meant being a slave.