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MatanzasThe Cuba Nobody Knows$
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Miguel A. Bretos

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813038100

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813038100.001.0001

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Coffee Cup and Sugar Bowl

Coffee Cup and Sugar Bowl

(p.49) 5 Coffee Cup and Sugar Bowl

MIGUEL A. Bretos

University Press of Florida

The collapse of French Saint Domingue's sugar- and coffee-based economy in the 1790s opened new opportunities for Cuba and for Matanzas in particular, being in a region then covered by forests but otherwise well-suited for both crops. The enormous expansion of the slave-based coffee and sugar plantation radically transformed the city and its hinterland over the course of a generation. The massive importation of slaves, the relentless felling of the primeval forest to clear the way for sugar mills (ingenios) and cafetales, the opening of the port to international trade, and the introduction of mechanization both to sugar production (mill machinery) and transportation (railroads) created a new set of economic realities and social relationships—indeed, a new landscape—which are presented and discussed in this chapter.

Keywords:   Saint Domingue, trade, plantation, cafetal, ingenio, mechanization, railroads, felling of forests, landscape

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