The word coartación was applied to that existential interval between slavery and freedom, and to be effective it required more or less kindly masters who ultimately kept their word. Once this route toward freedom was codified into law, it immediately became the subject of intense debate in Atlantic history. In this book, we argue that coartación generated income for the owner, encouraged productivity, and created a submission situation fed by the expectations that had been created in the slave. To demonstrate these ineffective levels of coartación, we use a qualitative approach that relies on slaves’ claims, often of a complaining nature, and that focuses on the modifications of the tradition regarding this variant of manumission. Ultimately, we aim to demonstrate that coartación laws were not followed in practice, and that as time went by, the process of coartación increasingly turned into a battleground between the enslaved who aspired to be free and those who owned them and wanted to keep a certain degree of control over the mechanisms that guaranteed a road to freedom.
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