Show Summary Details

Page of

 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 23 July 2017

Canary Island Immigration to the Hispanic Caribbean

Summary and Keywords

The configuration of Canarian migration during the Conquest and colonization of the Spanish Caribbean was significantly influenced by its historic continuity, familial nature (with an elevated presence of women and children), dedication to agriculture, and contribution to the settlement of towns. This migration gave rise to quintessentially rural prototypes, such as the Cuban guajiro, linked to self-sustaining agriculture and tobacco; the Puerto Rican jíbaro, a coffee grower; and the Dominican montero or farmer from Cibao. All of these contributed a great many aspects of their speech, idiosyncrasies, and culture.

The migratory dynamic has evolved since the Conquest and includes such processes as Cuban tobacco colonization, the foundation of townships in Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico (in order to further analyze their adaptation to the economic boom of sugar plantations in Cuba and Puerto Rico), and the uprising of slaves in French Santo Domingo, as well as the cession of the Spanish portion of the island to this country in 1795. This event merits special focus, due to its great transcendence in terms of the signs of identity that emerged during the rebellion of the Canarian vegueros against the monopoly within the Havana context, and the defense of their configuration as a distinct people in San Carlos de Tenerife: processes that explain their response to 19th-century innovations in Cuba and Puerto Rico and to Dominican political avatars, as well as their attitudes toward criollismo and emancipation. Their singularities are reflected in the mass Cuban emigration that took place during the early decades of the 20th century.

Keywords: migrations, Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, self-sustaining agriculture, labor, free work, slavery, guajiro, jíbaro, montero


When Columbus arrived in the New World, two of the Canary Islands, Tenerife and La Palma, had not yet been conquered in a process that began in 1402 with the Norman occupation of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and El Hierro. The archipelago would become from that moment on the first realm of the Indies. Asian plants such as sugar cane, banana plants, and certain varieties of grape had been introduced on the islands, and from there they would be taken to America. Canarian technicians would work on the first plantations of the New World. The same pattern occurred with the autochthonous pigs, goats, dogs, and sheep that were scattered across the Antilles. Canarias became, thus, an intermediary in the spread of plants and animals on both sides of the ocean. Potatoes and corn would quickly become acclimatized in the Canary Islands. Their output and complementary relationship with the vineyards would cause them to spread there long before they arrived in Europe.

Pioneers of a new medium, Canarians would participate in the Conquest as expert guides. Already in the 16th century they were known as islanders, a cultural conglomerate differentiated from the African insular territory recently conquered by Castile. From 1492 to 1506, at least twelve expeditions would make stops on the archipelago, including those of Columbus, Ojeda, Vespucci, Pedrarias, La Cosa, Yáñez, and Ovando. The islands acquired the privilege of doing commerce with the Indies from the early 16th century on. They were the sole exception to the Seville-Cadiz monopoly until well into the 18th century. Moreover, the immigrants who were being displaced from the insular ports were not subject to the control of the Casa de Contratación, nor were they required to produce letters of summons or files establishing “clean” bloodlines. Therefore, all those who found departure from Seville problematic because of their personal backgrounds, such as new Christians or Portuguese, would move to the Canaries. A royal decree dated 1511 simply stated that these migrants had permission to set sail under the sole authorization of the ship’s captain. In this fashion, Canarians or residents of the Canary Islands became an integral part of the expeditions of conquest and colonization. From that time forward, close bonds were forged between the archipelago and the New World that explain certain bonds, especially with the Spanish Caribbean, that naturally give rise to constant emigration over the course of nearly five centuries. The migration of Canary islanders was characterized by its peculiar familial, agricultural, and foundational traits, reinforced by the virtual disappearance of the indigenous population, which triggered in the 17th and 18th centuries the foundation of settlements and a new wave of colonization.

Emigration and Conquest

The Canarians participated in American colonization from the moment the Conquest began. The first reference to them in the Antilles occurs in 1533, when Pedro de Bolaños transported around seventy laborers to Montecristi (Santo Domingo). But the depopulation of that island was a fait accompli. The marginalization of the Antilles following the conquests of Mexico and Peru contributed to their commerce gradually being taken over by the Canarians. Pierre Chaunu suggests that twenty islander ships crossed the Atlantic with the New World as their destination between 1550 and 1627. They departed along the margins of the fleet, often without authorization. Up until the late 16th century, Santo Domingo was their preferred base. Sugar replaced gold in the local economy. In 1569, plantation masters were ferried in, but by then, the decadence was irreversible. In the final third of the century, Havana replaced Santo Domingo as the main overseas destination for islanders. It is calculated that they represented around 25.6 percent of total immigrants in Havana between 1585 and 1645.

The Era of Blood Tribute, 1678–1764

Following a long period of economic and demographic growth over the second half of the 17th century, the era of Malvasía wine exports, the Canarian economy began to manifest signs of a crisis. The dominant classes gambled on emigration, trying to link it to the continuation of their regime of mercantile privileges with the Americas. Advocates of the monopoly alleged that this traffic was like a hemorrhage for the Spanish monarchy due to the extraction of silver that arose from the illegal exportations of European manufactured goods. The occupation of Jamaica in 1655, which resulted from England and French expansion in Santo Domingo, worked in favor of a change of strategy in the Spanish government. The Canarian oligarchy realized that it could advantageously profit from the situation. The Royal Charter of 1678 exempted from the payment of taxes any shipping agent who transported five families of five members each for every hundred tons they exported, thus linking their future mercantile interests to the population growth policy of the Crown. However, not until 1718 was it exercised fundamentally by individuals in exchange for privileges. That was the point of departure for what has come to be known as “the blood tribute.”

The Santo Domingo authorities requested the conveyance of Canarian families as their only means to check French expansion. In 1684, 593 Canary islanders arrived for the settlement of San Carlos de Tenerife, which grew by 39 families in 1700. Another group settled in Santiago, which had become an engine of tobacco cultivation and where an islander militia was eventually formed. In 1684 and 1704, Bánica and Hincha were founded along the border. Especially through the latter, a backbone was assembled for the development of a cattle region that grew thanks to commerce with French Santo Domingo. In 1730, it was the second largest cattle town and in 1772, with thirty thousand head, it became the largest.1

Starting in the 1830s, the population policy in Santo Domingo, now implemented with capital proceeding from Mexican coffers, would have two priorities: (a) the border, with the founding of San Rafael de la Angostura, San Miguel de la Atalaya, Las Caobas, and Dajabón; and (b) strategic port areas such as Montecristi—which grew dizzyingly, beginning with the forty-six families that arrived between 1735 and 1736—Puerto Plata (founded 1736), Samaná (founded 1756), and Sabana de la Mar (founded 1760). Their expansion was due to the boom in cattle and tobacco in the border and Cibao regions. Tobacco explains the growth of towns of laborers, such as Moca or San Francisco Macoris, which allowed the Crown to put an end to investing in moving families in 1764.

Of all the settlements founded by Canarians in Santo Domingo during this era, none can compare to San Carlos de Tenerife. Today part of downtown Santo Domingo and during the colonial period an outcropping within shotgun range of the city walls, no place exemplifies more accurately in its configuration the mark of Canarian identity. It was the only independent jurisdiction in the capital city’s outskirts and a living example of the Canarian tenacity to possess their own village and parish despite the capital oligarchy’s interest in destroying them. They persevered in staving off assimilation by the urban area and maintaining their own city council until 1911. This identity persisted over the course of centuries as an expression of a sense of belonging to a singular collective—the islanders—within a city of mulatto majorities.

The history of San Carlos began in 1684 with the disembarking of ninety-seven families, for a total of 543 persons, from the Canary Islands. Their first settlement incurred serious losses due to unhealthy environs. Finally, they chose a more suitable location: an outcropping near Santo Domingo, practically bordered with the city walls. This was against the wishes of the capital town council, which desired the migrants’ distribution across different neighborhoods. It would be the sole location within the limits of Santo Domingo that would have its own town council and jurisdiction. In 1688, it was constituted as an ayuntamiento. Only the decisive intervention of the Audiencia allowed the interests of population growth to prevail despite the monopolizing zeal of the oligarchy, which claimed imaginary property rights born out of their obsession with land grabbing. Despite such obstacles, San Carlos continued to expand organically with the settlement of new Canarian families.

A new report by engineer Félix Prosperi placed San Carlos on the brink of extinction once again in 1735. This report arose from constant pressure from the ruling classes to extinguish the jurisdiction. To this end, it was labeled “a stepfather only a musket-shot away from the Santo Domingo main square.”2 Armed with these arguments, in the midst of the War of Jenkin’s Ear, the capital lobbyist obtained from the monarch a royal seal on August 16, 1742, approving demolition of San Carlos. But fortunately for the islanders, carrying out the demolition during a full-fledged armed conflict might cause active opposition from neighboring Canary islanders, who were essential to defense. It growth was already indisputable as a source of food for the capital. Any reversal at this point would have been extremely pernicious.

The next phase of the islanders’ struggle was to endow themselves with a church of stone. But this would be a very long battle, due to the tenacious opposition they faced. The Audiencia, which dominated the city, advised on December 1, 1724, that the Spaniards, in the event of foreign invasion, ought to take over the outpost for local defense, “it being true, according to sound military rules that, in the event of hostilities, one must choose between the most advantageous and pre-eminent sites.”3 If the governors did not wish to occupy the point, they would find it very easy to destroy any of its buildings, including any proposed church, because “it is barely two musket shots distant from the port of San Lázaro of this city.”4 On the other hand, the archbishop and Governor Fernando Constanzo favored the idea.5 The king gave his consent on June 10, 1724, and the people of San Carlos began construction on February 14, 1725.

In 1782, the parish still possessed no chaplaincy. To honor its patroness, the Virgin of Candelaria, only two masses were sung, but no festival of endowment was granted because those of its patrons, the Virgin and San Carlos Borroneo, were accomplished with alms. In spite of this, San Carlos continued to grow significantly in population throughout the 18th century as a supplier of beans, cassava, corn, and rice to the capital. New immigrants from the Canary Islands reinforced its peculiar hallmark. By 1785, Walton had defined its population as “the hardest working on the island.” Their farms “boasted now and again beautiful gardens, although the land was not of the best quality.”6

Puerto Rico presented similar demographic problems that threatened the continuity of Spanish dominion. The first migration, twenty families originating from Tenerife in 1695, was established in Río Piedras at the behest of the governor, Canary islander Juan Fernández Franco de Medina, in exchange for his post. Not until 1720 did the state decide to invest, given that the population of the island had reached only 2,416 people. Over the course of that decade, around 176 families were transferred there, for a total of 882 persons. This migration gave rise to radical change in insular demographics. In 1729, the population reached 4,750 inhabitants, and in 1750, a total of 14,027. The vast majority were young people of an ideal age for labor and reproduction. These were distributed among Loiza, Bayamón, and El Toa. Although official recruitment came to a standstill in 1731, Canarian migration would continue until 1765 and beyond, especially in the western region. Of twenty-eight new settlements established between 1714 and 1797, no less than nineteen owed their emergence to islander colonization efforts. In 1729, they settled near Mayagüez, Añasco, and Rincón. In Mayagüez, a hermitage was founded and dedicated to the Candelaria, and at Rincón, to Santa Rosa. In Añasco, parish classification was granted to the old hermitage of San Antonio Abad. Even Coamo itself received immigrants from the Canary Islands. The interior and western regions were prioritized for population, giving rise to the existence of a white farming class that would determine the region’s future identity: the jíbaro.

Together with Venezuela, the other great destination for Canary migration was Cuba. Havana was the port where the fleet of the Indies concentrated before its return to Spain. Starting in the second half of the 17th century, the cultivation of tobacco began to expand on the plains alongside rivers, land leased by islander farmers. Most tobacco would be cultivated in the province of Havana, but it became widespread throughout the central region and Camagüey as well. The Crown would back in 1693 the strategic foundation of Matanzas in the bay that bears the same name, whose inhabitants preferred to farm tobacco. The cultivation of small garden plots to supply maloja (fodder for cattle) or vegetables to the city and cattle ranches, employment as overseers or technicians, or engagement in local commerce would become alternative endeavors. Mercantile traffic was lucrative for the mercantile elite, comprised of Cubans such as the Franchi Alfaros family, or the Béthencourts. The majority struggled to gain access to land ownership and to block the lordly privileges wielded by the oligarchy, which was well aware of the benefits to be attained by tobacco exports. And so were born hubs of Canarian families such as those of San Felipe and Santiago del Bejucal, formed by Juan Núñez del Castillo, marquis of the same title, or Santa María del Rosario, which was the work of the Count of Bayona. But there were also free towns like Santiago de las Vegas, a notable community aspiring to its own town council or ayuntamiento. The people of Santiago de las Vegas triumphed over the landowners and succeeded in establishing themselves on lands that had been deemed ownerless. In the Canarian migration to Cuba, tobacco cultivation took on a fundamental importance, to such a degree that the terms guajiro (white farmer), veguero (native of Santiago de las Vegas), and isleño (islander) came to be synonymous. Hence, due to their influence in the configuration of Cuban society and their hegemonic character in terms of migration, the rebellion of the Canarian tobacco community against the monopolistic attempts of the Crown comprised a crucial chapter in their historical dynamics. During the second half of the 17th and the early 18th centuries, tobacco’s cultivation had expanded in the province of Havana, thanks to intense Canarian familiar migration. Ranches were leased on the plains alongside rivers and small towns dedicated to farming this product were founded in the proximity of the capital. In a phenomenon not unlike the development of cacao in Caracas, Venezuela, the export of tobacco along the margins of the commercial monopoly preceded the Crown’s efforts to control said product. Hence, both in the networks assembled between plainsmen and contrabandists and the fear of the backlash that, according to both sectors, exclusive royal control would unleash, the decisively rebellious stance adopted against the creation of the estanco may be better understood. An edict from Captain General Vicente Raxa dated July 27, 1717, proclaimed its enactment, based on the extraction of tobacco abroad and shortages in Spain that had undermined the public treasury. This was a harsh blow to Havana society, and one that was soon answered. On August 21, between four and five hundred vegueros, armed with machetes, muskets, and pistols, some on horseback and others on foot, rebelled. Encouraged by the support of the majority of the population, the uprising took place in the Havana square of San Francisco, before the homes of capitulants. The rebels invoked the deposition of the governor and his substitution by his second-in-command, the subaltern lieutenant Gómez Maraver y Ponce de León, who was the first lieutenant to the king that the general capitancy ever had and whom the rebels considered to be more sympathetic to their cause. With hardly any backing from regular troops, General Captain Raxa took refuge in the old Castle of the Royal Force, where he summoned the city council. The rebels demanded his expulsion and that of Factoría officials, a general pardon, and the appointment of the subaltern corporal as governor. Backed into a corner, he found himself compelled to negotiate, although he did refuse to abandon his command. Given the vegueros’ refusal to yield, he found himself obliged to abandon his post on August 24. The conglomerate seconded his decision and handed the command over to Gómez Maraver as interim governor. The victory of the vegueros was complete. Local elites, both ranchers and ecclesiastic, tried to disassociate themselves from the uprising. Given its gestation at the heart of the lower classes, they were accused of being the principal promoters. They alleged that they were not the source of inspiration, and that the uprising had arisen from the laborers themselves. The elites were at the margins, and remained faithful to the Crown. They were seconded only by the friars, many of whom could claim the same social and ethnic origins.

Canary Island Immigration to the Hispanic CaribbeanClick to view larger

Figure 1. Tobacco Driers in Cuba.

Postcard from the early 20th century.

The Spanish court received news of what had taken place on November 22, and the events were deemed an open challenge to royal politics. The alternate successor in the government of Orry, Cardinal Alberoni, upon being granted the appointment of general captain by Brigadier Gregorio Guazo Calderón, was fully aware of the gravity of the situation. He commanded the transfer of a thousand soldiers to pacify the island and impose royal authority. Upon his arrival in Havana on June 22, 1718, he summoned the city council and informed it of the pardon extended to those responsible for the sedition and of Maraver’s return to Spain. He believed that the only mid-range solutions were repression, understood as a measure of chastisement, and accessibility to enough money to pay cash. He was aware that the estanco could only be attacked through violence and intimidation. From June 14 to 27, 1720, more than two hundred vegueros burned the houses and harvests of seven neighboring towns of Santiago de las Vegas and of Guanabacoa who had pronounced themselves in favor of deferred payment. Concentrated at Jesús del Monte, the vegueros blocked the entrance of water and supplies to the capital. In response, the governor retained twelve of them in Havana. Given the gravity of the situation, Bishop Valdés; the oligarch José Bayona y Chacón; and the vicarious purveyor of the diocese, Dominican Pedro Agustín Morell de Santa Cruz, a future prelate, succeeded in convincing the mutineers that they should disperse in exchange for continuing to pay the Factoría in return for an exemption that year from the ten-peso tribute farmers were to pay for the plains they farmed. The Crown opted to allow laborers to sell all tobacco that could not be acquired by the Royal Treasury. A royal decree dated November 17, 1720, granted free commerce of tobacco with the rest of Spanish America and confirmed the pardon that the same captain general had conceded to the rebels on June 26.7 Yet it was evident that this would merely postpone the problem, because the Crown was determined to assume direct management over the commercialization of tobacco.

In 1723, the Factoría was able defray costs in cash because the necessary resources arrived on time, which gave rise to complaints from intermediaries, who held a considerable stake in the Factoría’s warehouses. Once again, rumors spread about the return of the full monopoly and the payment of farmers at reduced rates. The guajiros, traditionally suspicious of royal authority, decided to sow no more tobacco until they were adequately paid. They would inflict severe punishment on members of the opposition, whose warehoused tobacco would be burned. In January 1723, over three hundred rebels in San Miguel de Padrón devastated the fields in that pago and in those of Guanabacoa and Jesús del Monte. The farmers of Santiago and Bejucal, having sold previously to the Factoría, refused to burn their crops, for which they feared they would be attacked. The top authority on the island issued an edict to those who had revolted, notifying them that they risked the death penalty if the outburst continued. Now that greater military resources were on hand, decisive action was taken. The timing was far more favorable than in previous uprisings, because there was no universal quorum. This absence of unanimity contributed to the opposition sustained by the populace of Santiago de las Vegas and Bejucal, obliging many of them, especially the poorest among them, to sell their crops under pressure from the Marquis of San Felipe and Santiago.

The residents of Santiago de las Vegas and Bejucal, considered to be unbiased, implored the protection of the governor. Two hundred rebels were concentrated in Guanabacoa. On January 19, two hundred soldiers from the regular Havana regiment were sent to Santiago and Bejucal. On January 19, the cavalry clashed with the rebels, calculated to number six hundred. The reaction of the troops led to several deaths and the arrest of eleven rebels. Guazo decided to proceed summarily and ordered the execution without last rites of all eleven captives in response to the news before four o’clock in the morning on January 23, “so that due consideration be given to the decorum of royal jurisdiction and the arms of His Majesty, thus satisfying the public vendetta offended with such atrocious crimes and impudence.”8 They were positioned on different trees along the Camino Real, remaining exposed to public view for forty hours.

The Crown exonerated the top echelon of military authority and the city council. It considered their actions merited and their behavior decorous. The ruling classes saw their loyalty rewarded. In all three revolts, the commoners were punished and the loyalty of the ruling classes sanctioned. The alliance between the Crown and the Cuban ruling classes emerged reinforced and made it very clear to the lower strata the abysmal differences between them. The small island farmers who had found in contraband their sole means for survival paid the damages, while the oligarchy saw its position consolidated. The pie was divided among merchants and hacienda owners, for example the Compañía de la Habana, which had monopolized Cuban traffic up until the construction of the Factoría in 1760. The farmers and middlemen saw their power of decision making undermined.

Emigration to Florida and Subsequent Return to Cuba

The occupation of the Florida Peninsula was limited to San Agustín between the 16th and 18th centuries. The Compañía de La Habana was obliged under its statutes to transport annually in two ships fifty families from the Canary Islands to that destination. The transfers began in 1757 withtwo families, followed several months later with seventy-six, then thirty-six more the following year. In 1763, soon after war broke out with England, Spain ceded the territory to the United Kingdom, which resulted into the repatriation of the majority of Canarian inhabitants to Cuba. They settled in the western region of the island, where they became experts in beekeeping.

Between Free Commerce and Continental Independence, 1765–1824

The crisis in the Canarian wine sector in the 18th century would be aggravated by the reduction in British commerce, revolution of the English colonies, and free commerce in the Antilles as of 1765. Commerce in Cuba would specialize in the transportation of people. In 1778, Tomás de Nava calculated the number of those who abandoned Tenerife each year at around nine hundred. The Americas continued to be a lifesaver for the impoverished island economy. The era of so-called neutral commerce accentuated migration, except during periods of armed confrontation. This may be characterized as a period of transition that combined emigration sponsored by the Crown with free emigration. From 1777 to 1783, 4,312 persons embarked for Louisiana. However, the number who arrived can be pinpointed at around 2000, due to the desertion in Cuba of 50 percent of the group, especially following the declaration of war on England in 1779. One portion of the populace of western Florida would move to Cuba, where they would found Nuevitas in the eastern region.

A high percentage of the regiments based in Havana were composed of island militia. This provided the regiments with a practical economic formula for emigration to the Pearl of the Antilles. From 1753 to 1762, the battalion had been fundamentally sustained by Canarians who could, in that way, emigrate for free and guarantee their subsistence. With the invasion of Havana in 1763, further recruitment was suppressed. It would not be renewed until 1775. From that date until 1780, 521 young men embarked with that destination in mind. Over the course of only seven months in 1787, more than three hundred recruits abandoned their posts. Desertion was easy, because it was favored by the countrymen, who provided deserters with succor. However, the Canary islanders were necessary due to the scarcity of soldiers and the impossibility of supplying them from the Peninsula. Their colonel, Marías Armona, came to say of them that they were “the Gallegos of America.”9

During this stage, the Pearl of the Antilles would undergo profound transformations. The international market value of Cuban coffee and sugar gave rise to the formation of a powerful plantation class, while small landholders remained impoverished on tobacco farms or vegas. The free introduction of black slaves starting in 1789 and the destruction of the Haitian economy contributed to a major intensification in sugar production. The vegueros, expelled from their lands, found themselves compelled to migrate toward Pinar del Río in the central and eastern regions of the island, shires where they would settle from that point on. During the period of intense migration from 1765 to 1792, the production process radically changed. The vega was no longer a profitable alternative. The immigrant pursued a career on the plantation as an overseer or a technician, but above all in the small-scale cultivation of supplies and internal distribution in an expanding market that demanded foodstuffs. But as he grew in number, the small farmer descended on the social scale. The battle against gentrification continued, evidenced by the struggle to convert Güines into a villa or township, the expansion of the jurisdiction of Guanabacoa before the power of the hacienda owners of Havana, or the struggle against the conversion of San Antonio de Los Baños into a manor belonging to the Marquis of Cárdenas de Montehermoso. The confirmation of the oligarchy’s absolute control over the land in 1816 and 1819 provided the definitive backing for the oligarchy’s consolidation.

Cuba was a depopulated island with much vacant land, whereas in the province of Havana, human trafficking grew frenetically. Local forests were felled and fields tilled on the rest of the island, as colonization favored farmers dedicated to the cultivation of tobacco. General Commander Luis de las Casas had proposed in 1792 the strengthening of Canarian family emigration. But in the years of the sugar boom, his projects fell on deaf ears. As a consequence of the armed conflict in Venezuela, Cuba came to be the destination of the overwhelming majority of immigrants, including the more than one thousand who were recruited in the draft organized by Isidro Barradas for the invasion of Mexico. For the most part, they ended their days as farmers in the province of Havana. In Oriente during the first half of the 19th century, the Canarians would establish towns such as Nuevitas or Ciego de Ávila, expanding throughout the central region and that of Matanzas.

In contrast, Puerto Rico would be a pioneer in the cultivation of sugar cane by free labor. The islanders who emigrated in the final third of the 18th century confronted major obstacles in gaining access to land ownership. Thus, in 1778, the government proceeded with the distribution of vacant lands. Nonetheless, immigrant islanders continued to expand as small-scale farmers in the northern and central regions. In 1809, the mayor of San Juan proposed increased immigration in order to promote sugar development that was not dependent on slave labor. Sugar in Puerto Rico oscillated between the free labor of these immigrants and slavery. The Intendente Alejandro Ramírez began a policy to promote free labor in 1814. This process culminated in 1815 with Ferdinand VII granting the Real Cédula de Gracias, oriented toward the empowerment of the white population and agricultural growth. What is notable about this policy of colonization is that it was carried out with Canarian immigrants as day laborers in the sugar cane fields. Their efficiency was such that their propagation in Cuba was prohibited, as it was considered an incitement to independence.

Canary Island Immigration to the Hispanic CaribbeanClick to view larger

Figure 2. Utuado, a Puerto Rican coffee growing center of Canarian lineage.

Photograph from the late 19th century.

Cuban authorities requested the extension to the Pearl of the Antilles of the royal favor granted to Puerto Rico. In 1817, a royal seal to stimulate white colonization was approved. This did not counteract the slaving boom, given that it focused on the formation of colonies in less populated areas, always in limited numbers. Moreover, it was ineffective due to a lack of available lands. Contracts extended to islander farmers, such as those of Bahía Honda (Pinar del Río) or Guantánamo, attempted to promote this. They were joined by those of Baracoa, comprised of Canarians who had fled Montecristi (Santo Domingo) as a consequence of the uprisings in Haiti and the cessation of the island to France in 1795, or those of Cienfuegos. As a result of the armed conflict in Venezuela, a considerable number of people fled that country as well. Although some would return after peace was declared, others decided to resettle indefinitely, as was the case of Gregorio de Medina, his wife, and his six children, who were palm farmers from Barcelona. De Medina founded in Ponce one of the island’s most productive sugar plantations. However, the contradiction lay in that with the economic focus on sugar, what the hacienda owners demanded was not small farm owners but day laborers. With few exceptions, the plans for colonization failed due to a lack of lands and the growth of the plantation system and thus of slavery. There was room only for salaried laborers who would work with greater profitability than the slaves. The resources of the elite would be channeled into the plantation economy, not the utopian plans for colonization blocked by the Crown, which believed that an elevated number of white colonists would enhance the desire for independence. Likewise, marriages between people of different races were prohibited.

Emigration in the Mid-19th Century to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Canarian migration to Cuba intensified in the 19th century, and its familial character was reinforced. In 1835, the second treaty for the suppression of slave traffic returned white colonization to the foreground among the dominant criollo classes. To them, government plans to introduce white colonists were no longer a priority, despite the fact that they were occasionally promoted to vacant properties, for example the Conde de Villamar project for a colony in Ciego de Ávila starting with fifty Canarian families. The more aware sectors began to demand day laborers. The general captains believed the numeric dominion of slavery acted as a damper on pro-independence trends. White immigration had to be reduced. They believed Chinese and Yucatecans ought to be used as a complement to slave labor, which meant that growth in their population was encouraged, as was human trafficking. While government policy was against the hiring of white day laborers, this practice was defended by criollos like Saco y Morillas, who saw his brief treatise Medios de fomentar y generalizar la industria censored for opining that the main cause of the backwardness of the plantation economy was the fact that it was powered by slave labor.

Canarian immigration was considered by Cuban autonomists and separatists as differentiated from Peninsular immigration, which led to upholding and empowering it for making possible the emancipation of the colony in the long run through its expansion. In 1892, José Martí, whose mother, Leonor Pérez, was Canarian, affirmed that “it is by no means strange that the son of the Canary Islands, poorly governed by the Spaniard, love and procure in the colonies of Spain independence that by reason of proximity, variety of origins, and lack of sufficient means he does not attempt on his own islands.”10 The Canarians identified with Cuba in a way different from other Spaniards, vividly sympathizing with Cubans’ problems regarding the oppression of the metropoli. The Cubans considered the Canarians to be criollos, which meant that they attempted to involve them in emancipatory struggles due to the decisive weight they carried in the rural setting. Canarian immigration in Cuba was, in the mid-19th century, superior percentage-wise compared to another other group among Spanish migrants. Canary islanders accounted for 42 percent of the Spaniards in Cuba, while the rest of the Spaniards made up 58 percent. Their spatial distribution was mostly confined to the rural regions of Matanzas, Occidente, and Havana. The habitual formula for migration was indentured servitude. The contractors abused the credulousness of the farmers, proposing usurious contracts to defray the cost of the human cargo. Hacienda owners wanted day laborers who were in the prime of youth and without any defects. The elevated number of pregnant and single women was a concern and led to prostitution, notably from the 18th century onward, becoming a constant issue over the next two centuries.

In Cuba, the overwhelming superiority of white farmers within the small landowner class and its expansion over the course of the century is unquestionable. In 1862, 78.7 percent of the workers on small plots of land were white. Article 3 of the Pact of Zanjón, which put an end to the Ten Years’ War, promoted the freeing of slaves who had formed part of the insurrectionist rank and file. There was a notable contradiction here, given that those who were loyal to Spain remained so. Two years later, in 1880, the Patronage Law was ended. However, its final eradication would not come about for another six years. In the last third of the century, the Cuban upper classes became aware of the advantages provided by wage labor. With the abolition of slavery, the agricultural proletariat expanded. The contract model is a faithful reflection of savage liberalism, although it also recalls, in certain aspects, coercive elements more typical of the slave market. People were compelled to work twelve to fourteen hours a day, including Sundays, and to live in slums. The conditions were worse for women, who were paid only half a day’s labor. Cuba was notoriously the country that received the most Canarian immigrants. Of the 23,623 Canarians registered in the census, 19,627 (83.03 percent) had as their destination the Pearl of the Antilles. The total number of Canarians who migrated to Cuba is estimated between fifty and sixty thousand.

The reaction of these immigrants was to organize in order to improve the conditions of their contracts. Thus, in 1872, the Asociación Canaria de Beneficencia y Protección Agrícola (Canarian Association for Agricultural Welfare and Protection) was founded. Its forerunner had been the Junta de Beneficencia Canaria (Canarian Beneficence Assembly) of 1861. Despite the ups and downs, with its networks of correspondents across the island it became a voice for the colony, critical of exploitation and channeling the philanthropic vocation of its wealthier sectors. It possessed a Quinta de Salud (Public Health Villa), to which Canarian patients from the entire island would turn in order to cure their ills. There was, however, criticism that due to its quotas, only those who were better off were able to rely on it. Island intellectuals launched a campaign to improve these conditions.

During the second half of the 19th century, there was a notable presence of Canarian intellectuals in the university, including such figures as Teófilo Martínez de Escobar, Domingo Fernández Cubas, Domingo León y Mora, Francisco Campos y López, Pablo Valencia, and Valeriano Fernández Ferraz. Press on the island also served as a vehicle for these elites. El Mencey appeared in 1864. Other organs of journalism that shared the same tendency during the colony were La Voz de Canarias, El Eco de Canarias, Revista de Canarias, Las Canarias, and Las Afortunadas.

Around two thousand Canarians, mostly from Venezuela, turned to the Dominican Republic in 1859–1860, as a result of the armed conflicts in Venezuela during the Federal War. Their transfer was financed by President Pedro Santana to bolster his project of annexation to Spain. However, the War of Restoration and subsequent peace in the country of Orinoco caused most of them to return. In 1880, there was interest in once again promoting their migration as day laborers during an incipient sugar boom, but the few benefits offered resulted in less than one hundred incoming migrants.

Emigration to Puerto Rico in the Mid-19th Century

Emigration to Puerto Rico in the 19th century did not reach Cuban levels but was rather significant in the northern and central regions. Whole families emigrated and intermarried with a high percentage of endogamy sustained over many generations. This is the case of Utuado in the coffee-growing region of the country, or Hatillo in the north. In the latter, an elevated number of immigrants from the southern region of Tenerife gave rise to that settlement. Vega Alta, Guaynabo, and the two Trujillos became their communities. Their success attracted Gomerans to Toa Alta and Vega Alta. The same thing happened to a certain degree in Guaynabo with the people of Lanzarote or Majorero. Later on, other groups would be established in Camuy, Quebradillas, and Isabela.11

Family ties among Canarian immigrants to Puerto Rico continued to prevail but were restyled as indentured labor, which entailed the subsequent exploitation of the entire family unit. An eloquent example of this state of affairs is the undertaking in 1856 by Juan Bautista Andoze, a merchant from the island of Saint Thomas and owner of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico, who attempted the introduction of five hundred Canarians “in order to distribute our properties among the laborious and honorable people we seek, accompanied by their families.”12 The conditions under which this was approved coincided with the guidelines of the restrictive white colonization policy defended by the Spanish authorities, given that it was made clear that this should take place “only in numbers considered to be indispensable for the servicing of their haciendas.”13 By no means could they be transferred to other hacienda owners. Being Spaniards “in a country where there is slavery and in which 3,000 coolies will be introduced for the time being, and in a greater number if it were found to be necessary, the Government cannot consent, having attended to the case we find before ourselves, that the same rules be applied to them.”14 In the first shipment, according to the mayor of Naguabo, 166 colonists arrived, 95 of which were distributed among the haciendas that Andoze possessed in that town. The rest were passed along to the island of Vieques. They were received in unsanitary slums and very poorly fed. The conditions of the contract were abusive. The Lagunan laborer Marcos Rodríguez, age 34, with five relatives in his care, was obliged to place himself at the service of the agents of Andoze for “any kind of work in the fields that is destined to us, during the customary hours on plantations and other farms, for a salary of 19 pesos per month.”15 If they were ill for more than fifteen days, they were not paid. They were subjected to these terms for four years, “during which it was not permitted that we be absent.”16 Most serious of all was that their salaries were proportionally docked each month the 125 pesos that their cargo had totaled as well as the 9 pesos and 9 reales for their letter of commendation and passport.

Rebellion soon broke out over the terrible lodging conditions. The agent Fernando Bauditz explained that “it is not possible to avoid putting an end to the question of the islander colonists.”17 This was critical for the Antilles, given that it was “futile to sustain contracts, futile to improve offers, and futile to promise greater advantages,” because “the colonists resist working and must be maintained at their leisure.”18 They wished to break their contracts, but it was dangerous for “those people to remain vagabonds in the country or return to their own, without providing satisfaction to us for the sums we have paid for their transportation and advances, in order to repay in some small way the damages occasioned to us by their malice or bad intentions.”19 Therefore, they had to work on the haciendas for the accustomed salary until the expenses of their cargo and other investments made by the owner had been paid in full. Some of the Canarians refused, which was considered “haughtiness, as if this were fit for a man who had come to the island to rule as the owner of a hacienda, called to cultivate instead of as laborers, who had to calculate their current subsistence and their future in the exercise of their arms, conquering the appreciation and esteem of their masters with the modesty, resignation, and application that are the virtues of the poor.”20 Those who resisted would be considered vagrants and led off to the penitentiary.21

Mass Emigration, 1880–1929: Cuba as a Vital Destination

The sugar cane harvest of 1887 was the first in Cuba to be completed entirely by wage laborers. The workforce was composed of forty-five thousand whites, thirty thousand Asians, one hundred thousand freemen of color, and twenty-five thousand indentured servants. The slaver bourgeoisie proposed that five hundred thousand additional workers be imported in order to satisfy the demand for production. The attraction of islander labor under usurious contracts was one of the methods employed to reduce the deficit. The final third of the 19th century and first several decades of the 20th brought with them a new stage, defined by the development of an Atlantic labor market. This model stressed the immigration of males of a productive age who would work intensively for several years in agricultural labor and who, for the most part, then returned to their country of birth. The Cuban economy demanded, on the one hand, a reserve of labor available for the sugar and tobacco harvest, and on the other hand, a smaller percentage of colonists who would remain year-round on the plantation. Island labor was an attempt to resolve both limitations. Some would specialize in the sugar and tobacco harvest. This temporary migration would be combined with that of families who had become colonists and who would work the whole year on haciendas, receiving in return a parcel of land where they could cultivate foodstuffs for their own consumption.

The Canarian emigration provided Cuba with experienced farmers able to balance all kinds of agricultural labor, from tobacco or sugar cane to fruit picking, throughout the year. This was a long-suffering, experienced workforce that traveled to Cuba with the objective of consuming their youth in order to save enough money to spend the rest of their days in leisure on the Canary Islands. Hence, only 8 percent of immigrants during the period of U.S. occupation traveled with their wives. The differences in salary between Cuba and the Canary Islands was the greatest attraction. This immigration became a factor of social stability on both sides of the ocean. It intensified starting in 1910 and especially from 1915 to 1920, due to the serious consequences World War I had for the archipelago. Economic welfare would reach its zenith around that time. On May 19, 1920, sugar was priced at twenty-two cents in the United States. But it was only a mirage: in 1921 began the period known as the “Dance of the Millions” that triggered an impressive banking collapse, one that culminated in the crash of 1929.

In response to desperate conditions in the colony, in 1906, a group of islanders constituted a new association, their priority being the foundation of a public health center or quinta. Delegations were established across the country to this end, particularly in the central region. In the 1920s, membership would reach its climax with over twenty-six thousand members. This retail pattern assembly would project itself toward nationalism with the creation of the Nationalist Canarian Party in 1924.

The cultivation of tobacco was an eloquent example of complementariness and mutual support. Regions such as Vuelta Abajo (Pinar del Río) and especially Vuelta Arriba (Las Villas) bear faithful testimony to the endogamy between groups and ethnicities. The small or mid-sized Canarian property owners of tobacco farms signed on their countrymen as party supporters during the planting or harvest season. The tobacco regions came to represent the living expression of islander culture and society, transplanted to Cuba. But that same migration also reached Camagüey or Oriente, where sugar farming reigned in a boom that involved mostly U.S. capital, and where migrants were employed either as colonists or as day laborers.

The 1930s would put an end to secular Canarian migration to Cuba. Given the serious economic consequences of the 1929 crash, in 1930 the Cuban government prepared to block the entrance of foreigners to the island. The so-called nationalization of labor prohibited the immigration of workers for farm labor, especially during the harvest season. Although this was directed especially against the immigration of Haitians and Jamaicans, it affected Canarians as well. But Canarian immigration had already come largely to a halt due to a lack of prospects. The prices of tobacco in the years following the crash hit a historic low, for example, half a peso per quintal. Farmer subsistence became increasingly difficult. Crowds of laborers filled the ports only to return to their homes, in many cases without enough money to defray the cost of their passage.

Migration to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the 20th Century

The military coup of July 18, 1936, ushered in a harsh economic crisis on the Canary Islands. Demographic growth during this period, due to a heightened birth rate and null migratory expectations, was considerable. The Spanish Civil War put an end to the Open Ports Regime, a system of free trade franchises that had been in effect since 1852, with serious consequences that led to an economy highly dependent on the exterior, especially the British. It was a stage of economic autarchy under the auspices of military command. In light of this crisis, Venezuela would become the preferred destination among emigrants.

Following the U.S. occupation, migration to Puerto Rico was restricted. However, very significant personalities settled there, such as the Real brothers, who renovated typography and Borinquen journalism, or the artist and set designer Carlos Marichal. On the other hand, in the Dominican Republic during the first half of the 20th century, a few islanders sporadically reached the country, such as two brothers from Palmera who resided in Barahona, the Gracias, one of whom became the father of the famous actress María Montes. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, Trujillo welcomed Republican exiles, especially in the agricultural colonies along the border. Among them were found islanders such as Elfidio Alonso, who directed a newspaper in Santo Domingo, but the majority left the country within a few years due to the oppressive atmosphere that prevailed. In 1955, the so-called Benefactor of the Fatherland, interested in whitening the border and modernizing agriculture, promoted the immigration of Spaniards. Within this context, around three hundred Canarians arrived in two contingents. But the conditions were not as promised. Only a few settled in Constanza, a highly elevated plain in the western region of the country where several still subsist today, and in El Cibao, where they unlawfully practiced agricultural activities. One of them even became the owner of a fleet of bakery trucks. But the majority, given the lack of prospects, soon moved to Venezuela.

Discussion of the Literature

Studies on Canarian migration in the Caribbean began with the work of José Antonio Pérez Carrion, a Canarian residing in Cuba who wrote Los Canarios en América in 1895. In the 1950s and 1960s, different works by the Canarian historians Francisco Morales Padrón and Analola Borges broached the subject, but without going into depth with regard to the Hispanic Caribbean. A more scientific historiography regarding Canarian migration was launched with the edition of the doctoral dissertation by Julio Hernández García entitled La emigración canario-americana en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX (1981), one of the pioneering works of migratory study in Spain. Two venues backed publications in this field, the Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos, published since 1955 under the direction of Antonio Rumeu de Armas, and the colloquiums on Canarian-American History, organized since 1976 by Francisco Morales Padrón.

A new teaching position in the area of history of the Americas at La Laguna University considerably expanded studies dedicated to the Spanish Caribbean. Together with the aforementioned Julio Hernández, Manuel de Paz Sánchez and Manuel Hernández González brought to light various monographs in the field of Caribbean migration, outstanding among which is their joint essay La esclavitud blanca. Contribución a la historia del inmigrante canario en América. Siglo XIX. Together with other monographs on Cuba, Hernández González brought to light in the first decade of the 21st century a trilogy on Canarian colonization of colonial Santo Domingo. Disciples of these men, including Félix Rodríguez Mendoza, Valentín Medina Rodríguez, and Gregorio Cabrera Déniz, published studies with special emphasis on contemporary Cuba.

In the field of economic history, Antonio M. Macías approached a collective vision in La migración canaria, 1500–1980 (1992). From an anthropological perspective, Alberto Galván Tudela studied the contemporary stage with La migración de Arona a Cuba: una visión transnacional (1895–1930) (2004), a line of research that was seconded by the Cuban historians Sierra Torres and Juan Carlos Rosario Molina in Los canarios en Cuba: juntos, pero no revueltos (2001). More recently, two modernist historians at the ULL, Adolfo Arbelo García (2011) and Francisco Fajardo Spínola (2013), focused on correspondence as a source.

Starting with the pioneering study by Manuel Álvarez Nazario, La herencia lingüística de Canarias en Puerto Rico (1972), with abundant information about Canarian migration, historians in the Americas have tackled this theme—mostly with regard to Cuba—with the exception of Carlos Esteban Deive, who has focused on colonial migrations to Santo Domingo (1991) and Estela Cifré de Loubriel, who has concentrated on Puerto Rico (1995). Regarding the Pearl of the Antilles, Jesús Guanche embarked on the subject through parochial archives, López Isla in the field of Vuelta Arriba, Olivia Cano on the first half of the 19th century, and Dolores Guerra with regard to associationism (asociacionismo). There are still many aspects to be studied, including the role of Canarians in Cuban tobacco expansion, starting in the second half of the 17th century.

More recently, stemming from the monographic study by Manuel Álvarez Nazario, studies regarding the Canarian influence on Caribbean speech have flourished. From the Canary Islands, contributions such as those of Cristóbal Correales and Dolores Corbella in Diccionario de coincidencias léxicas entre el español de Canarias y el de América (1994) or Javier Medina López in El español de América y Canarias desde una perspectiva histórica (1995) have spearheaded more exhaustive investigations. In the Dominican Republic, particularly outstanding is the work by Irene Pérez Guerra, Historia y Lengua: la presencia canaria en Santo Domingo: El caso de Sabana de la Mar (1999). More recently, this relationship has been examined during the early days of colonization in the broad study by Jens Ludtke, Los orígenes de la lengua española en América. Los primeros cambios en las Islas Canarias, las Antillas y Castilla del Oro (2014).

Primary Sources

The Archivo General de Indias (AGI) possesses abundant sources for the colonial era, despite the fact that the natives of the Canary Islands did not participate in the mercantile monopoly regime and, as a consequence, emigrated directly and were not registered by the Casa de Contratación. Sources in this regard may be found in the following sections: “Audiencia de Santo Domingo,” “Papeles de Cuba,” and “Indiferente General,” among which are found the writings compiled by the Juzgado de Indias de Canarias, the populating expeditions organized by the Crown, military recruits, or various aspects of migration. For the contemporary stage, the Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid (AHN) houses reports regarding this migration in its archives, under “Ultramar” and “Asuntos Exteriores.” As for Canarian archives, particularly outstanding are the Histórico Provinciales of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and La Palma, especially due to their section of notarial protocols in which abundant information exists regarding the contracting of emigrants, last wills and testaments, petitions by women to gain access to their husbands’ estates, and so on. The dioceses of La Laguna and Canarias are also of interest, especially concerning processes of widowhood among women. The Municipal de La Laguna (AMLL) possesses abundant information regarding migratory issues. The Centro de Documentación de Canarias y América (Cedocam) in La Laguna and the Casa de Colón in Las Palmas offer specialized bibliographical and periodical archives.

As for the Caribbean, the Archivo Nacional de la República de Cuba is renowned for its conservation of notarial documentation starting in the 16th century. Other sections such as that of the Junta de la población blanca (White Population Assembly) or contemporary migratory registers are also very useful. The Archivo del Obispado de La Habana provides abundant information, especially in its archives of files of single and married persons. The parish archives with their sacramental books are another capital source. Those of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have been digitalized on Family Search. The Archivo General de Puerto Rico and the Archivo General de la Nación de la República Dominicana are of interest for the contemporary era, especially due to their registries of immigrants.

Casa de Colón—Las Palmas.

Museos de Tenerife—Centro de Documentación: center of documentation regarding the Canary Islands and the Americas.

Memoria digital de Canarias: digital memoirs from the Canary Islands.

Portal de archivos españoles: catalogued and digitalized registries from the Spanish national archives.

FamilySearch: access to digitalized sacramental books from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Further Reading

Álvarez Nazario, Manuel. La herencia lingüística de Canarias en Puerto Rico. San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1972.Find this resource:

Arbelo García, Adolfo. Correspondencia canario-americana: familia y redes sociales (siglos XVIII y XIX). Tenerife: Idea, 2011.Find this resource:

Cabrera Déniz, Gregorio. Canarios en Cuba. Un capítulo de la historia del archipiélago. (1875–1931). Las Palmas: Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1996.Find this resource:

Cano Castro, Olivia. La Corona española, la sociedad criolla y las migraciones de colonos canarios a Cuba en la primera mitad del siglo XIX. Una mirada desde Cuba. Las Palmas: Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 2012.Find this resource:

Cifré de Loubriel, Estela. La formación del pueblo puertorriqueño: la contribución de los isleño-canarios. San Juan: Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, 1995.Find this resource:

Esteban Deive, Carlos. Las emigraciones canarias a Santo Domingo. Siglos XVII y XVIII. Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana, 1991.Find this resource:

Fajardo Spínola, Francisco. Las viudas de América. Mujer, migración y muerte. Tenerife: Ediciones Idea, 2013.Find this resource:

Galván Tudela, Alberto, and Guillermo Sierra Torres. La migración de Arona a Cuba: una visión transnacional (1895–1930). Arona: Llanosur, 2004.Find this resource:

Guanche Pérez, Jesús. Significación canaria en el poblamiento canario de Cuba: los archivos parroquiales (1690–1898). Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 1992.Find this resource:

Guerra López, Dolores. La Quinta Canaria legado de la inmigración canaria en Cuba. Tenerife: Gobierno de Canarias, 2000.Find this resource:

Hernández García, Julio. La emigración canario-americana en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX. Las Palmas: Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1981.Find this resource:

Hernández González, Manuel. La emigración canaria a América entre el libre comercio y la emancipación (1765–1824). Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 1992.Find this resource:

Hernández González, Manuel. La emigración canaria a través de la historia. Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 2005.Find this resource:

Hernández González, Manuel. Los canarios en la Cuba contemporánea. Semblanzas de identidad y cultura. Tenerife: Idea, 2009.Find this resource:

Hernández González, Manuel. La colonización de la frontera dominicana (1680–1795). Santo Domingo: Archivo General de la Nación, 2006.Find this resource:

López Isla, Mario. La aventura del tabaco: los Canarios en Cuba. Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 1998.Find this resource:

Macías Hernández, Antonio. La migración canaria, 1500–1980. Colombres: Archivo de Indianos, 1992.Find this resource:

Medina Rodríguez, Valentín: Canarias-Cuba: la aportación isleña al desarrollo asociativo español en la Gran Antilla (1804–1936). Las Palmas: Anroart, 2008.Find this resource:

Paz Sánchez, Manuel, and Manuel Hernández González. La esclavitud blanca. Contribución a la historia del inmigrante canario en América. Siglo XIX. Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 1993.Find this resource:

Rodríguez Mendoza, Félix. Sociología de la emigración canaria a América: un estudio del fenómeno migratorio del noroeste de Tenerife entre 1750 y 1824. Tenerife: Idea, 2004.Find this resource:

Sierra Torres, Guillermo, and Juan Carlos Rosario Molina. Los canarios en Cuba: juntos, pero no revueltos. Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 2001.Find this resource:


(1.) Manuel Hernández González, La colonización de la frontera dominicana (1680–1795) (Santo Domingo: Archivo General de la Nación, 2006).

(2.) Archivo General de Indias, Santo Domingo, 1092.

(3.) Manuel Hernández González, El sur dominicano (1680–1795). Cambios sociales y transformaciones económicas (Santo Domingo: Archivo General de la Nación, 2008), 194.

(4.) González, El sur dominicano, 194.

(5.) González, El sur dominicano, 169–285.

(6.) William Walton, Estado actual de las colonias españolas, vol. 1 (Santo Domingo: Sociedad dominicana de bibliófilos, 1976), 126–127.

(7.) Levi Marrero, Cuba. Economía y sociedad, vol. 8 (Madrid: Editorial Playor, 1976), 50–52.

(8.) Archivo General de Indias, Santo Domingo, 484.

(9.) Manuel Hernández González, La emigración canaria a América entre el libre comercio y la emancipación (1765–1824) (Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 1993), 226.

(10.) Translator’s note: “No es raro que el hijo de las Canarias, mal gobernado por el español, ame y procure en las colonias de España la independencia que por razón de cercanía, variedad de orígenes y falta de fin bastante, no intenta en sus islas propias.” Manuel Paz Sánchez and Manuel Hernández González, La esclavitud blanca. Contribución a la historia del inmigrante canario en América. Siglo XIX (Tenerife: Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria, 1993), 21–22.

(11.) Estela Cifré de Loubriel, La formación del pueblo puertorriqueño: la contribución de los isleño-canarios (San Juan: Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, 1995).

(12.) Translator’s note: “Para repartir nuestras propiedades entre la laboriosa y honrada gente que solicitamos, acompañada de sus familias.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 68.

(13.) “Solamente del número que se considere indispensable para el servicio de sus haciendas.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 68.

(14.) “En un país donde hay esclavitud y en el cual van a introducirse 3.000 coolies por ahora, y mayor número si fuere necesario, no puede el Gobierno consentir, atendido el caso que nos encontramos, que se apliquen las mismas reglas a éstos.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 68.

(15.) “Cualquiera clase de trabajo en el campo que se nos destine, y a los ingenios y otras fincas las horas acostumbradas por 19 pesos de salario al mes.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 68.

(16.) “Durante los cuales no nos está permitido ausentarnos.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 69.

(17.) “No es posible prescindir poner término a la cuestión de los colonos isleños.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 69.

(18.) “Inútil celebrar contratos; inútil el mejorar las ofertas e inútil el prometer mayores ventajas” porque “los colonos se resistían a trabajar y hay que mantenerles en la holganza.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 69.

(19.) “Esas gentes queden vagabundas en el país o regresen al suyo, sin satisfacernos las sumas que pagamos por su transporte y avances, para resarcirnos en pequeña parte siquiera de los perjuicios que nos ocasiona su malicia o mala intención.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 69.

(20.) “Altanería, como pudiera hacerlo hombre que hubiera venido a la isla a mandar como dueño de la hacienda, que eran llamados a cultivar más bien que como obreros, que debían cifrar su subsistencia actual y su porvenir en el ejercicio de sus brazos, conquistando el aprecio y estimación de sus amos, con la modestia, resignación y aplicación que son las virtudes del pobre.” Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 69.

(21.) Sánchez and González, La esclavitud blanca, 67–69.