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Illegal Enslavement, International Relations, and International Law on the Southern Border of Brazil

  • Keila Grinberg
Extract

The La Plata River Basin, bordering Uruguay and Brazil, was the site of constant disputes between the Spanish and Portuguese crowns into the eighteenth century. The conflicts dated back to the seventeenth century with the founding of the Colônia do Santíssimo Sacramento on the left bank of the river. Although both sides engaged in diplomatic efforts over the years, these were not enough to prevent war, and there were ongoing battles interspersed with short periods of calm until the end of the 1860s and the so-called Paraguayan War (1865–70).

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keila.grinberg@gmail.com
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This article was translated from Portuguese by Kristin McGuire. Previous versions of this article were presented at the seminar “Brazil: History, Human Rights, and Contemporary Slavery,” University of Michigan Law School and at the seminar “A Crime Against Humanity: Slavery and International Law, Past and Present,” at Stanford Law School and at the University of Maryland at College Park. The author thanks Anita Correia Lima de Almeida, Ira Berlin, Sueann Caulfield, Alejandro de la Fuente, Ariela Gross, Jean Hébrard, Martha Jones, Beatriz Mamigonian, Jenny Martinez, Claudia Regina Andrade dos Santos, Ricardo Salles, Rebecca Scott, Lisa Surwillo and Daryle Williams for their insightful comments and suggestions.
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1. Borucki, Alex, “The Slave Trade to the Rio de la Plata, 1777–1812: Trans-Imperial Networks and Atlantic Warfare,” Colonial Latin American Review 20 (2011): 81107 .

2. Souza, Susana Bleil de and Prado, Fabrício Pereira, “Brasileiros na fronteira uruguaia: economia e política no século 19,” in Capítulos de História do Rio Grande do Sul, ed. Grijó (Porto Alegre: UFRGS, 2004), 121–22.

3. Grinberg, Keila, “Freedom Suits and Civil Law in Brazil and the United States,” Slavery & Abolition 22 (2001): 6682 .

4. Petiz, Silmei de Sant'Ana, Buscando a Liberdade: as fugas de escravos da província de São Pedro para o além-fronteira (1815–1851) (Passo Fundo: Editora da Universidade de Passo Fundo, 2006). See also Bakos, Margaret, “Considerações em torno do protesto do escravo negro no Rio Grande do Sul,” Estudos Econômicos 18, Special Issue (1988): 167–79.

5. The historiography on runaway slaves in Brazil is extensive. See, among others, Silva, Eduardo and Reis, João José, Negociação e conflito: resistência negra no Brasil escravista. (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1989); Gebara, Ademir, “Escravos: fugas e fugas,” Revista Brasileira de História (1996): 89100 ; Neto, José Maia Bezerra, “Histórias urbanas de liberdade: escravos em fuga na cidade de Belém, 1860–1888,” Afro-Asia (UFBA) 28 (2002): 221–50; Florentino, Manolo, “De escravos, forros e fujões no Rio de Janeiro imperial,” Revista USP 58 (2003): 104–15; and Gomes, Flavio dos Santos, Histórias de Quilombolas. Mocambos e Comunidades de Senzalas no Rio de Janeiro –– séc. 19 (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2006).

6. Studies on the northern border of Brazil in the eighteenth century show that runaways, especially from Pará to French Guiana, led to the signing of a treaty for the reciprocal extradition of slaves between Portugal and France. On escapes of slaves “beyond the border” in the north of Brazil during the colonial period, see Gomes, Flavio dos Santos and Gledhill, H. Sabrina, “A ‘safe haven’: Runaway Slaves, Mocambos, and Borders in Colonial Amazonia, Brazil,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 82 (2002): 469–98; and Caldeira, Newman, “À procura da liberdade: fugas internacionais de escravos negros na fronteira oeste do Império do Brasil (1822–1867),” Nuevo Mundo-Mundos Nuevos 2 (2009): 112 .

7. For studies on the transnational history of slavery in the Caribbean, see Ghachem, Malick, The Old Régime and the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Geggus, David and Fiering, Norman, eds. The World of the Haitian Revolution (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008); Dubois, Laurent, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Ferrer, Ada, Freedom's Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014); and Scott, Rebecca and Hebrard, Jean, Freedom Papers: an Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).

8. Azara, Felix, Memoria sobre el estado rural del rio de la Prata y otros informes (Madrid: Imprenta de Sanches, 1847).

9. According to Saint Hilaire, slaves in Montevideo were “generally better treated, better nourished, and better dressed than those of Brazil,” showing “also an air of freedom and contentment that was not seen with the Brazilians.” Auguste de Saint Hilaire, Viagem ao Rio Grande do Sul (Brasília: Senado Federal, 2002, [1st ed. 1884]), 208.

10. Ibid., 65.

11. Frega, Ana, “Caminos de libertad en tiempos de revolución. Los esclavos en la Provincia Oriental Artiguista, 1815–1820,” in Estudios sobre la cultura afro-rioplatense, Betancur, Arturo, Boruki, Alex, Frega, Ana, eds. (Montevidéu: Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación, 2004); and Aladrén, Gabriel, “Experiências de liberdade em tempos de guerra: escravos e libertos nas Guerras Cisplatinas (1811–1828),” Estudos Históricos 22 (2009): 439–58.

12. Mallo, Silvia and Telesca, Ignacio, eds. Negros de la Patria. Los afrodescendientes en las luchas por la independencia en el antiguo virreinato del Río de la Plata (Buenos Aires: Editorial SB, 2010); and Blanchard, Peter, Under the Flags of Freedom: Slave Soldiers and the Wars of Independence in Spanish South America (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).

13. Grinberg, Keila, “Escravidão, alforria e direito no Brasil oitocentista: reflexões sobre a lei de 1831 e o ‘princípio da liberdade’ na fronteira sul do Império brasileiro,” in Nação e cidadania no Império: novos horizontes, ed. Carvalho, José Murilo de (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2007); and Frega, “Caminos de libertad en tiempos de revolución.”

14. Complaint of the Portuguese government about the delivery of runaway slaves to Brazil in the territory of the United Provinces of the La Plata River in “Nota do governo português ao das Províncias Unidas do Rio da Prata,” November 30, 1813, in Relatório do Ministro das Relaçoes Exteriores (1857) Annex E, no. 14:40.

15. “Nota do ministro britânico nesta Corte ao supremo governo das Provincias Unidas do Rio da Prata,” November 27, 1813, in Report of Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1857, Annex E, no 15:41; and “Nota daquele governo [de Buenos Aires] ao ministro de S.M. Britânica nesta Corte,” December 28, 1813, in Relatório do Ministro das Relações Exteriores, 1857, AnnexE, no 16:42.

16. Eugenio Petit Muñoz, La condición jurídica, social, económica y política de los negros durante el coloniaje en la Banda Oriental, Tomo 1. Montevideo, 1948, 243. An agreement was established only in 1774 between the governors of both sides on the reciprocal return of slaves and deserters. See Gabriel Aladrén, “Sem respeitar fé nem tratados: escravidão e guerra na formação histórica da fronteira sul do Brasil (Rio Grande de São Pedro, c. 1777–1835)” (PhD diss., Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, 2012).

17. Munõz, La condición jurídica, 245–48.

18. Royal Decree of 1550. Cited in ibid., 246–47.

19. Munõz, La condición juridica, 246–47; and Salmoral, Manuel Lucena, Leyes para esclavos. El ordenamiento jurídico sobre la condición, tratamiento, defensa y represión de los esclavos en las colonias de la América española (Madrid: Fundación Histórica Tavera, 2000). 258–62.

20. Landers, Jane, “Spanish Sanctuary: Fugitives in Florida, 1687–1790,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 62 (1984): 296313 ; and Lucena Salmoral, Leyes para esclavos, 258–62.

21. Royal Decree of September 24 1750, according to Lucena Salmoral, Leyes para esclavos, 259.

22. Lucena Salmoral, Leyes para esclavos, doc. no. 472:1026.

23. Lucena Salmoral, Leyes para esclavos, 1147–50.

24. Landers, “Spanish Sanctuary;” and Salmoral, Leyes para esclavos.

25. Landers, “Spanish Sanctuary,” 312–13.

26. Lucena Salmoral, Leyes para esclavos, 350–53.

27. Silva, Cristina Nogueira Da and Grinberg, Keila, “Soil Free from Slaves: Slave Law in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Portugal,” Slavery & Abolition, 32 (2011): 431–46; Venancio, Renato Pinto, Cativos do Reino: a circulação de escravos entre Portugal e Brasil, séculos 18 e 19 (São Paulo, Alameda, 2011).

28. Andrews, George Reid, Afro Latin-America. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004)

29. Salles, Ricardo, Nostalgia Imperial: Escravidão e formação da identidade nacional no Brasil do Segundo Reinado, 2nd ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Ponteio, 2013).

30. Benton, Lauren, “The Laws of This Country”: Foreigners and the Legal Construction of Sovereignty in Uruguay, 1830–1875, Law and History Review 19 (2001): 479511 ; and Menegat, Carla, “Em interesse do império, além do Jaguarão: os brasileiros e suas propriedades na república oriental do Uruguai (1845–1864),” in As fronteiras da escravidão e da liberdade no sul da América, ed. Grinberg, Keila (Rio de Janeiro: FAPERJ/7Letras, 2013).

31. Brazilian Diplomatic Mission. Montevidéu – Ofícios 1842. Borucki, Alex, Chagas, Karla, and Stalla, Natalia, Esclavitud y trabajo. Un estudio sobre los afrodescendientes en la frontera uruguaya, 1835–1855 (Montevideo: Pulmón, 2004), 221 .

32. There are indications, however, that escapes of slaves continued until the 1880s, and only ceased with the abolition of slavery in Brazil. Petiz, Buscando a Liberdade; and Borucki, Chagas, and Stalla, Esclavitud y trabajo, 129.

33. Relatório da Repartição dos Negócios Estrangeiros apresentado à Assembleia Geral legislativa. Correspondência dos Governantes, box 21, Arquivo Histórico do Rio Grande do Sul. See also Itamaraty Historical Archives (where the original lists are held), 310/1/1. These relationships, as well as the exact number of fugitives, have been intensively analyzed in the Rio Grande do Sul historiography. Petiz, Buscando a Liberdade, 53–54; and Caratti, Jonatas Marques, O solo da liberdade: as trajetórias da preta Faustina e do pardo Anacleto pela fronteira rio- grandense em tempos do processo abolicionista uruguaio (1842–1862). (Porto Alegre: OIkos, 2014).

34. “Tratado entre o Senhor D. Pedro II, Imperador do Brasil, e a Republica Oriental do Uruguay para a entrega reciproca de criminosos, e desertores, e para a devolução de escravos, assinado no Rio de Janeiro em 12 de Outubro de 1851, e ratificado por parte do Brasil em 13 do mesmo mez, e pela da referida Republica em 4 de Novembro do dito ano,” articles VI e VII, in Sistema Consular Integrado – Atos Internacionais – Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Brasil. http://dai-mre.serpro.gov.br/atos-internacionais/bilaterais/1851/b_26/ (October 9, 2013).

35. In 1850, Francisco Pedro Buarque de Abreu, the Baron of Jacuí, organized the largest armed incursion (a “california”) to retrieve cattle and goods in Uruguay, having recruited an army of approximately 300 men, paid at his expense. Reclamaciones de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay contra el Gobierno de Brasil (Montevideo: El Pais, 1864), XIII; Torres, Miguel Gustavo de Paiva, O Visconde de Uruguai e sua atuação diplomática para a consolidação política externa do Império (Brasília: Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão, 2011), 7985 ; Ferreira, Gabriela Nunes, O Rio da Prata e a Consolidação do Estado Imperial, (São Paulo, Hucitec, 2006), 116–17; and Rafael Peter de Lima, “A Nefanda Pirataria de Carne Humana': escravizações ilegais e relações políticas na fronteira do Brasil meridional (1851–1868)” (Master's Thesis, Porto Alegre, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 2010).

36. I am using the concept of a border of slavery as suggested by Joseph Miller and used throughout Africanist historiography. Miller, Joseph, Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and The Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830 (Wisconsin, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996). See also Candido, Mariana, An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

37. “Nota do governo Imperial Brasileiro a Legação da República Oriental do Uruguai no Brasil em 27 de abril de 1857,” Archivo General de la Nación – Montevideo (hereafter AGN), Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Legación del Uruguay en el Brasil, box 102, file 124, cited by Lima, A Nefanda Pirataria de Carne Humana, 50.

38. Statement from Basilio A. Pinilla, Head of the Department of Paissandu, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Dr. D. Juan José de Herrera, on May 12, 1864. Documentos Oficiales Justificativos de la Conducta de las Autoridades Departamentales de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay contra las acusaciones de las Camaras Brasileras (segunda edición aumentada). Montevideo: ‘El Pais’, No 67 (1864): 11, cited in Lima, “A Nefanda Pirataria de Carne Humana,” 50.

39. Vásquez Sagastume cited in Lima, “A Nefanda Pirataria de Carne Humana,” 74.

40. In the Chinese case, after China's defeat by Britain, the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing established that several Chinese ports would be opened to foreign traders and that the British, when involved in a crime, would be tried in courts provided by their own consular authorities, rather than in the Chinese legal system. Horowitz, Richard S., “International Law and State Transformation in China, Siam, and the Ottoman Empire during the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of World History 15:4 (2004): 445–86.

41. Benton, “The Laws of This Country”; Lima, “A Nefanda Pirataria”; and Eliane Zabiela, “A presença brasileira no Uruguai e os tratados de 1851: de comércio e navegação, de extradição e de limite” (Master's Thesis, Porto Alegre, UFRS, 2002), 125.

42. Guerra, Susana, “A produção de um espaço colonial em um país soberano: extraterritorialidade no Sião”, Ars Historica, 1 (2010): 127136 .

43. Thiago Leitão de Araújo, “Para o outro lado da linha: as fugas de escravos para o além-fronteira (século 19),” in Grinberg, As fronteiras da escravidão e da liberdade, 176.

44. Torres, Miguel, O Visconde do Uruguai e sua atuação diplomática para a consolidação da política externa do Império (Brasília: Funag, 2011), 20; and Ferreira, O Rio da Prata e a Consolidação do Estado Imperial, 139–42.

45. Grinberg, Keila, “Slavery, Manumission and the Law in 19th Century Brazil: Reflections on the Law of 1831 and the ‘Principle of Liberty’ on the Southern Frontier of the Brazilian Empire,” European Review of History/Revue Europeene d'Histoire 16 (2009), 401–11; and Nequete, Lenine, O escravo na jurisprudência brasileira: magistratura e ideologia no Segundo Reinado (Porto Alegre: Editora Revista de Jurisprudência, 1988), 125–35.

46. Ferreira, O Rio da Prata e a Consolidação do Estado Imperial, 229.

47. About the historiography of slavery in Brazil, see Jean Hebrard, “Slavery in Brazil: Brazilian Scholars in the Key Interpretive Debates,” Translating the Américas, vol. 1, 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/lacs.12338892.0001.002 (accessed November 11, 2016) and Keila Grinberg, “Historiographie et usages publics de l'esclavage au Brésil”, Revue d'histoire du XIXe siècle 51 (2015): 127–44.

48. Malheiro, Agostinho Marques Perdigão, A escravidão no Brasil: ensaio histórico-jurídico-social (São Paulo: Edições Cultura, 1944 [1st ed. 1866]), 117.

49. Malheiro, A escravidão no Brasil and Da Silva and Grinberg, “Soil Free from Slaves.”

50. Law of November 7, 1831 in Câmara dos Deputados. Coleção das Leis do Império do Brasil. http://www2.camara.leg.br/legin/fed/lei_sn/1824-1899/lei-37659-7-novembro-1831-564776-publicacaooriginal-88704-pl.html (October 22, 2013).

51. Soares, Macedo, Campanha Jurídica pela Libertação dos Escravos, 1867–1888 (Rio de Janeiro: Jose Olympio, 1938), 7983 .

52. The decrees of July 20 and September 10, 1858 established that in addition to cases of escape, already included in Article 6 of the Treaty of Extradition, the slaves should be returned when they randomly crossed the border with permission from a master, and when a slave crossed the border with the master's orders for “an occasional and momentary service.” “Notas Reversais sobre Extradição de Escravos,” in Sistema Consular Integrado—Atos Internacionais—Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Brasil. http://dai-mre.serpro.gov.br/atos-internacionais/bilaterais/1858/b_68/ (October 22, 2013).

53. Opinion, Council of State, March 20,1858, Brazil–Uruguay. Extradiction of Slaves. do Conselho de Estado de 20 de março de 1858, Brasil–Uruguai. Extradição de Escravos. Itamaraty Historical Archives, 5/58.

54. Malheiro, A escravidão no Brasil, n. 543.

55. Grinberg, As fronteiras da escravidão e da liberdade, 54, 68, 86.

56. Historical Archive of Itamaraty, Brazilian Diplomatic Missions, Special Mission of the Visconde of Rio Branco (1856–1859), Livro de Ofícios 1857, August 18, 1857, September 16, 1857.

57. Ibid., October 30 1857 (emphasis mine).

58. “Brasil-França. Projeto de Tratado de Extradição. Consulta de 27 de fevereiro de 1857,” in House of Representatives/Ministery of Foreign Affairs, Conselho de Estado 1842–1889, Consultas da Seção dos Negócios Estrangeiros, vol. 4 (1854–1857). (Brasília: Centro de Documentação e Informação, 1981), 523–524.

This article was translated from Portuguese by Kristin McGuire. Previous versions of this article were presented at the seminar “Brazil: History, Human Rights, and Contemporary Slavery,” University of Michigan Law School and at the seminar “A Crime Against Humanity: Slavery and International Law, Past and Present,” at Stanford Law School and at the University of Maryland at College Park. The author thanks Anita Correia Lima de Almeida, Ira Berlin, Sueann Caulfield, Alejandro de la Fuente, Ariela Gross, Jean Hébrard, Martha Jones, Beatriz Mamigonian, Jenny Martinez, Claudia Regina Andrade dos Santos, Ricardo Salles, Rebecca Scott, Lisa Surwillo and Daryle Williams for their insightful comments and suggestions.

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