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The Caribbean History - Essay Example

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The Caribbean History The Caribbean history is abounding with adventurous stories, mixed cultures and natural diversity. Many of the island’s cultures still carry the impressions left by colonism and slavery. The Atlantic slave trade, as it is known today, was very small when it started but gradually reached substantial numbers…
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Download file to see previous pages Dominique, and Cuba, and finally, about the achievements of the Haitian Revolution and its impact on the Caribbean. THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE AND TRIANGULAR TRADE The 16th century saw the beginning of the slave trade in the Caribbean islands. The European importers had started demanding high quantities of sugar, a product of sugarcane which grew easily in the Caribbean’s temperate climate. As a result, the demand for sugar increased which directly increased the demand for labour. The Arawaks, the original slaves employed by the Europeans had started vanishing and so then-friar Bartoleme de las Casas of Hispaniola suggested to enslave the Africans. The slave raiding parties, who were generally endorsed by the local government, performed the task of enslaving the Africans and bringing them to the island. The slave traders then use to auction the slaves in the market and the whites bought them. The whites insisted that the slaves should cut off all ties with their homeland and their families, and also preferred keeping slaves of the same culture apart. The slaves were not given any personal or civil rights; in fact their owner could order them any task that they wanted from them. In the Western hemisphere, the demand for labor gave emergence to a commercial network which was named the Triangular trade. It was so called because it followed a triangular route: firstly, the European merchants would set sail to Africa with bartering goods, arms and liquor and traded for slaves with the African slave traders; slaves were then shipped to the Caribbean islands and; in the final step, the plantation owners purchased slaves from the merchants in exchange of tobacco, sugar and rum which the merchants took to Europe from the Caribbean islands, thus completing the triangle (Figueredo and Argote-Freyre 60-63). THE MIDDLE PASSAGE The middle passage was the second step of the Triangular trade in which slaves were transported from West Africa to island colonies in the Atlantic. This journey which generally took four to six weeks was the most dangerous and hazardous voyage for the slaves. They were packed into ships in two ways, either a tight pack or a loose pack. The slaves were first laid on shelves, chained to each other with no space in between them. They were supposed to eat, sleep, urinate, defecate, and even give birth in the same allocated place. The conditions were so pathetic that they refused to eat. Most of the slaves revolted; indeed, the lacks of awareness of where they were being taken made many of them commit suicide. However, the ships’ crews practiced various cruelty measures to keep the slaves alive, for instance, they forcefully opened the mouth of the slaves with tools to feed them (Equiano n.p). The slaves were treated very harshly along the whole passage and most of them died because of poor treatment and malnutrition. Records reveal that on an average 9% of the slave died in the middle passage and those who survived were properly fed on the last days, were ‘oiled’ and paraded through the streets to the slave markets. There, they were auctioned off and traded for liquor, gums and other goods (Figueredo and Argote-Freyre 64). LIFE ON THE PLANTATIONS The work on the plantations was very intense and exhausting with the working hours extending up to 18 hours and even up to 24 hrs during the peak ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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