In this study, we look beyond the classic perception of coartación as paid manumission or simple self-purchase; that way of looking at it is insufficient—at some point that meaning, that definition, was lost, or at least twisted. Being a coartado did not consign one to a rigid socio-economic status, nor did coartación conform to a regular labor pattern that arose from the predominance of large sugar plantations, haciendas, and the principles on which they worked. Slave owners who refused to recognize the law or regulations by which a slave might purchase his or her own freedom “on the instalment plan,” by rejecting the meaning of it that might be favorable to the slave, made coartación an unstable concept.
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