Pedro Blanco: The Spanish Merchant Who Built a Slave Trading Empire in West Africa in the 19th Century

Pedro Blanco was a Spanish merchant who played a significant role in the transatlantic slave trade during the 19th century. Born in the late 18th century, Blanco built his fortune by establishing a slave trading empire in West Africa, where he operated with impunity for several decades.

Pedro Blanco: The Spanish Merchant Who Built a Slave Trading Empire in West Africa in the 19th Century

Born in Spain in 1784, Blanco’s involvement in the slave trade started in Africa in 1822, after previously managing a sugar mill in Cuba. He sailed to Africa on the Conquistador, one of his ships, to participate in the lucrative and well-established Atlantic slave trade.

Blanco quickly established himself as a major player in the industry, building a vast network of traders and agents across Cape Mount, Shebar, Digby, Nuevo Sestos, and other regions. His network supplied slaves to plantations in Cuba, the United States, and Brazil, making him incredibly wealthy. Blanco’s operation was so successful that his credit bills were accepted in New York City, London, and many other well-known financial centers.

Blanco’s reign of terror peaked when he established a Lomboko (slave factory) in what is today Sierra Leone. It consisted of several large barracoons (a type of barracks used historically for the internment of enslaved individuals) for slaves brought from the interior, as well as several buildings to house his wives, concubines, and employees.

One of the most notable incidents involving Pedro Blanco was his purchase of Cinque, a rice farmer with three children, who was captured illegally by African slave traders in 1839. Cinque was imprisoned on the Portuguese slave ship Tecora, in violation of treaties prohibiting the international slave trade. Cinqué was taken to Havana, Cuba, where he was sold with 110 others to Spaniards José Ruiz and Pedro Montez.

Joseph Cinque 1840

Cinque’s story became well-known after he led a successful revolt aboard the slave ship Amistad in 1839, which eventually led to the freedom of himself and his fellow captives.

Blanco’s legacy in the slave trade is one of cruelty and exploitation but despite his wealth and power, Blanco was not immune to the consequences of his actions.

In 1849, the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy, committed to combating slavery, launched an assault on Blanco’s Slave fortress. Although Blanco was not present during the attack as he was in Cuba, he had stationed a group of agents to maintain his business in Gallinas. During the operation, the Royal Marines liberated the slaves and demolished the fortress. Subsequently, he moved from Cuba to Genoa, where he continued to engage in the slave trade until his demise in 1854, leaving behind a legacy of cruelty and inhumanity..

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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