Cuban Death Certificates of Chinese Slaves

Currency:USD Category:Antiques Start Price:60.00 USD Estimated At:200.00 - 400.00 USD
Cuban Death Certificates of Chinese Slaves

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The Chinese first emigrated to Cuba in 1847. The intention from the Chinese perspective was they would essentially work in Cuba and earn regular wages. Upon arrival the Chinese found that would end up working as slave labour. There exists documented evidence stating that the existing black and other slaves in Cuba were dying off in large numbers of cholera and other diseases and that Cuba (Spain), as a result, looked elsewhere and to China in particular, to replace these "workers" - who were indeed slaves. The Chinese came, and when they arrived their wages were kept so low - below that of existing slaves - they were forced into working minimum 8 year contracts before then being traded to other slave owners and thereby continue working. They did hard labour principally both on farms and on the Cuban Railroad and on sugar plantations etc., - working as slaves. Original Chinese Macao/Cuban immigration documents are testament to this and some in fact clearly state the Chinese, as part of their contract, are to except wages "BELOW that of slaves and labourers" in Cuba. This was a forced condition in the contract. Ergo, they worked as slave labour. The contracts also directly state that as compensation for low wages that the Chinese would receive other benefits such as medical, food etc., however these benefits were always minimal to force them to keep working at less than minimum wages so they could not leave.

This was obviously a difficult time in Chinese history, not only because they had to work as slave labour,
but it is also important to note the voyage itself to Cuba was precarious. A typical voyage last about 100 days and the Chinese did not just load the ships with just anyone, there would be a doctor aboard etc., a complement of professionals and labourers to no doubt ensure they could establish a proper Chinese colony ("colonos chinos" in the documentation) in Cuba - these people represented the "heart" of China. In the end, no simple working colony was established, - the Chinese worked as slaves.

"Todos los años figuran uno ó más indi- / every year there is at least 1 or more

viduos muertos por intoxicación tebaica, / individuals who dies due to opium

de cuyo veneno tanto abusa la raza china / intoxication, the "venom of which is abused so much by the chinese race"

y que indudablemente es además un fac- / and that without a doubt in addition

tor importante en el empobrecimiento del / a factor is how poor the Chinese

organismo, y por lo tanto causa coadjuvan- / became, and as result, this caused

te de muchas enfermedades mortales. " / many deadly illnesses

What is notable about these certificates is the cause of death; many slaves fell victim to “opio tebaico,” otherwise known as an overdose from opium. Those suffering from overdoses often were described as suffering from “caquexia”, a morbid process of wasting away.

The documents for sale in this auction are Chinese Death Certificates for the Chinese who had been slaves and/or who were released from slavery.

These certificates are the same as those found at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto and are crucial to providing further insight into the Chinese experience in Cuba, a heretofore under-researched area of studies.