Slavery in Puerto Rico

1119 Words5 Pages
Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean, off the coast of the United States was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and his entourage, who claimed the small island for Spain. Unlike any other nation in the Western hemisphere that was involved in the slave trade, Puerto Rico initially began with the African freemen who came with the Spanish conquistadors. Originally populated by about sixty thousand Taino Indigenous people, benign diseases and attempted sucides soon decreased the population. As a result, African peoples were forced into slavery to help build fortifications, work the fields, and carryout slave owner’s domestic work thus entering Puerto Rico in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. However, the enslaved African peoples didn’t just contribute to the development of this new island; their traditions are what inspired the culture that Puerto Rico is built upon today. While Puerto Rico was founded in 1493 it was not until the early 1500s that it was colonized by the Spaniards. Juan Ponce de León was the first explorer to colonize this new island in 1508. In his crew he brought along Juan Garrido, the first free black man to set foot on this island. However, when they arrived on the island known today as Puerto Rico it had already been inhabited by the Taíno tribe for centuries. While the two groups tried to keep the peace, eventually that attempt ran out, leading to the Spaniards enslaving the Taínos. Taking away their rights and forcing them to perform hard labor such as; working in the gold mines, in thesugar or ginger industry or performing domestic work. Due to this, many Taínos committed suicide out of resistance or became victims of the small pox disease that the new settlers had brought over. This unfair treatment eventually led to the attempted revolt of 1511 and the escape of many Taínos. It was not until a year later that Friar Bartolomé de las
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