Frederick Douglass Opie

in Black Labor Migration in Caribbean Guatemala, 1882–1923

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033716
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038735 | DOI:

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This chapter considers the significance of the history of black migrant laborers in Guatemala and their place in the coastal workforce. For the freedmen who started immigrating as early as 1853, travel to Guatemala represented an escape from the white racist-controlled Jim Crow U.S. South and the French and British colonial Caribbean. Labor recruiters spread the word that Guatemala was “the next Booming Country,” where “White and Colored Laborers” could work for the railroad, save enough money to buy land, and become rich off of the turn-of-the-century frenzy for cultivating and selling bananas on the international market. For some, immigration to Guatemala provided an opportunity to purchase property and pursue entrepreneurial ambitions that would have been hard to achieve in the economically depressed and politically repressive regions the immigrants came from. But the effect of immigration on the history of Guatemala was even more profound, as migrant and Latin American laborers' militancy, though largely unsuccessful, paved the way for the struggles of later workers and permanently transformed the culture of Caribbean Guatemala.

Keywords: Guatemala; Latin American laborers; black migrant laborers; militancy

Chapter.  1933 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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