Venta de Indios Mayas a Cuba

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Venta de Indios Mayas a Cuba

The sale of Maya Indians to Cuba began with the Caste War (1847–1901) on the Yucatán peninsula. The Yucatán governor Miguel Barbachano (1807–1959) decreed on November 6, 1848, that every rebel Indian captured would be exiled from the region for ten years.

This decision by the Yucatán authorities favored the Cuban hacienda owners and governors, who were experiencing a scarcity of black slaves and were interested in Mayan immigration. The deportation of Indians was made official in 1849. Barbachano offered soldiers 5 pesos for each rebel captured; the Yucatán government was receiving from the Spanish commercial houses 25 pesos for each rebel. From 1849 to 1861 the Yucatán governors deported 700 to 2,000 Indians to Cuba, as well as many peaceful Maya and mestizo people.

Despite pressure from England and from some officials in the Mexican government, the elite whites of Yucatán continued with the trafficking, arguing that their actions were based on "philanthropy and humanity"—that it was an alternative to killing the rebels, and that the Indians' living conditions were better in Cuba. They also supported the sales with alleged labor contracts that provided for the return of the Indians in five to ten years. The trafficking ended when Mexican president Benito Juárez stopped the activity in 1861 by establishing the death penalty for anyone who continued it.

See alsoCuba: The Colonial Era (1492–1898); Juárez, Benito; Mexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican-American War; Yucatán.


Falcón, Romana. Las rasgaduras de la descolonización. Españoles y mexicanos a mediados del siglo XIX. México: Centro de Estudios Históricos-El Colegio de México, 1996.

La guerra de Castas. Testimonios de Justo Sierra O'Reilly y Juan Suárez y Navarro. México: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 2002.

Rodríguez Piña, Javier. Guerra de Castas: La venta de indios mayas a Cuba, 1848–1861. México: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1990.

                         Justo MigueL Flores Escalante