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The slave trade in Latin America. Profit and human misery - Research Paper Example

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As early as the 15th century the Spanish were gaining a stranglehold on Mexico and the various tribal lands of Latin America. A series of conquistadors, essentially privateers, more adventurers than soldiers, struck out on their own to secure the spoils and riches of the new lands…
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The slave trade in Latin America. Profit and human misery
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Download file to see previous pages As early as the 15th century the Spanish were gaining a stranglehold on Mexico and the various tribal lands of Latin America. A series of conquistadors, essentially privateers, more adventurers than soldiers, struck out on their own to secure the spoils and riches of the new lands. Up to the 16th century activities in this part of world were predominantly exploratory treasure hunts. Standing in their way, however, were the multitude of sedentary and fierce nomadic indigenous tribes which had to be overcome if the land was to be subjugated. By 1502 the first shipload of Africans had been landed in Hispanola. By the time of the full conquest of Mexico in the 1520 and Peru in the 1530s, all the elements of the colonial system of Latin America were falling into place. In Mexico, farming and mining were underway. In Brazil, under the Portuguese, the initial period of some coexistence through bartering and trade with the Indians was morphing into formal Spanish and Portuguese royal control.1 Along with it came the beginnings of a plantation economy. On the main land, as in the Caribbean, indigenous resistance and subsequent depopulation was spreading throughout Latin America, and by 1570 war and disease had taken its toll. Traditional sources of free labor diminished, and within thirty years of the Spanish landing tribes had been decimated. Along with depopulation and the emerging economy came the recognition that a large labor force would be needed to work the mines, ranches and sugar plantations cropping up like seedlings throughout Latin America....
rld, the need for slaves expanded, prompting the Portuguese traders to explore new markets for their “product.” Within thirty years of Columbus’s discovery, the Portuguese, beginning in Brazil, tapped into the growing market and before long were supplying an unending cache of slave workers for a burgeoning sugar industry. Assessing the northeastern coast of Brazil as particularly adopted to sugar growth, they began importing thousands of African slaves to that area, each of which was “not a mere captive but a commodity… an investment…[that]… impelled a vast expansion of the American sugar dominions. 2—an expansion that would eventually evolve as a lucrative commercial enterprise over the next three centuries via numerous other European slave traders. Estimates say that “By 1700 nearly three-quarters of the population of the British West Indies was African.” 3 Many countries including the French, Dutch and British eventually became prominent in the slave trade. The details of the actual practice seem today stunningly inhumane. And least it be forgotten, the truth remains that “The slave trade [its practices] was so awful in itself that one is apt to forget that it was merely a means to an end.” 4 That end was profit. Life on the Slave Ship Numerous accounts exist of the misery, suffering and dehumanizing environment of the slave ship that defy all modern sense of morality “as a brutally efficient piece of technology and site of struggle.” 5 All of the Europeans—Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British, French and Italians--freighted ships laden with barter to trade with Africans for African slaves. To those slave traders 16th through the 18th century, practices that would now be condemned universally as nothing short of “deliberately concealed ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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