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Slavery In Latin America Essay

1283 words - 5 pages

Slavery in Latin America


After Mexico and South America had been conquered, Spain and Portugal wanted to develop the economy and export the resources that would benefit the monarchy back home. The Indians were working in the silver mines in Northern Mexico, supervised by blacks. The gold mining regions in Central Mexico were hot and tropical, and after the introduction of disease, these areas became death zones. The indigenous people could not stand a chance in these areas, so there was need for people who were able to work under these conditions and that were easier to dominate. The answer to this was slaves from the African continent. The demand for African slaves' labor continued to rise as a result of plantation agriculture, the price of sugar and the demand for miners. The Africans were wanted as labor because they were skilled, and they were experts in tropical agriculture. Also their immunity to malaria and yellow fever made them suitable for labor.
There were some differences between the urban and rural slaves in Latin America. The biggest difference was that the urban slaves had much more associational freedom and economic opportunities than the rural slaves. In urban areas slaves and free blacks even worked as artisans. In the cities the slaves could locate and socialize with people from the same part of Africa. Sometimes city slaves came together and formed societies that worked to systematically manumit slaves. The urban slaves definitely had more personal freedom and freedom to develop personal networks, and they also had a greater chance of buying their freedom. Actually the slaves in the city had important functions in urban society. City slaves had the chance to go to the market and do all the shopping for the household. In the city the women also were able to meet at the fountain for some chitchat and gossip. The slaves also had the privilege of going to the market with their own small scale food items and sell it. This way they could save up some money for manumission. The slave/master ratio in the city was 3-4 slaves pr. master, while it was 30-40 slaves pr. master in the rural areas. It goes without saying that the urban slaves had a much closer relationship to the master than did the rural slaves. As earlier mentioned the rural slaves had much less freedom than the city slaves. They didn't have the freedom to go anywhere, because there was simply nowhere to go, thus they were stuck on the plantation. There was also a difference between the domestic and the field slaves. The domestic slaves were physical better off, with bigger houses and more comfortable environments, but they had much less privacy than the field slaves, because their masters always watched them. The field slaves were working harder, but at least they had a little bit more space than the domestic slaves. The field slaves were watched by other slaves, so once in a while they snuck away for a little break.
Some slaves, especially the urban slaves, had...

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