In New Spain, cocoa was a staple food whose high demand at the beginning of the 17th century meant that cocoa beans were imported from Guatemala, Venezuela, and Guayaquil. The viceroyalty of New Spain became the largest world buyer of cocoa because it paid for the product with silver, which was the principal means of exchange at the time. The cocoa trade was monopolized by a small, powerful group of the Consulado (merchants’ guild) of Mexico City who contracted it, redistributed it to the rest of the viceroyalty, and shipped it to Spain. However, the Spanish Crown’s prohibitionist trade policy hindered the expansion of the cocoa trade to meet the demand in New Spain. As Spain intermittently suspended sailing between the viceroyalties of Mexico and Peru, the supply of Guayaquil cocoa was limited to shippers who could obtain special licenses and those who smuggled it. When the monarchy required extraordinary funds to finance its wars in Europe, it granted permits to move Ecuadorian cocoa through the Pacific routes. However, it preferred the supply of cocoa from Caracas for geostrategic reasons, a factor that was used by Caracas shippers to raise prices. Mexican merchants preferred to import Ecuadorian cocoa because of its higher profitability. Trade in cocoa from this source was based on a confluence of complex kinship, community, and friendship networks. Finally, in 1789, the Guayaquil cocoa trade was authorized without restrictions, which significantly reduced the demand for Caracas cocoa. In addition, cocoa from Tabasco, Guatemala, and Maracaibo was traded in New Spain. The relationship between the Crown and the commercial elite of Mexico was characterized by a policy of continual ongoing negotiations. The cocoa trade was privileged in exchange for merchants’ contributions over and above regular fiscal payments.
Guillermina del Valle Pavón
Mario Samper Kutschbach
Given its historical and present roles in Latin American societies, coffee has generated substantial interest and information. Documents up to the mid-20th century have been partly digitized by researchers or generated in electronic format by inter/national organizations after 1960. Digitized information at first primarily focused on time series, censuses, and other quantitative data to address economic and technological aspects, and on other primary and secondary sources for social and political ones. Historical and cultural geography and environmental and rural history of coffee-producing areas have resorted to scanned or digital maps and geographical information systems (GIS), together with aerial photography after mid-century and satellite images since the 1990s, as well as datasets on climate and diseases, and scientific or technical reports. Digital collections of audio/video recordings, paintings, and photographs expanded the range of sources and topics. Digitizing research involves critical and creative source work; it is also more than digitizing sources. Creating and linking databases containing nominal information, together with archival sources and oral history, has allowed researchers to further integrate quantitative and qualitative methods. Software for network or content analysis, genealogy, and timelines has been used increasingly. Machine-learning, exploration of big data, and historical/spatial data mining are still incipient for Latin American coffee. Digital resources—combined with other sources and methods, guided by appropriate research questions in a theoretical/epistemological framework—are key for meaningful and systematic comparative discussions of national/local processes within a regional/global context. However, many digital resources are not publicly accessible or require payment; historical datasets should be public goods. Much work is yet required to digitize documents such as accounting of coffee estates, customs records, and associations’ minutes, as well as multiple secondary sources. Digitalizing historical research on coffee is a learning process and requires additional expertise; convergent and cross-disciplinary methodological approaches are needed to comprehensively address the economic, environmental, social, political, and cultural history of coffee.
Regina Horta Duarte
Modern zoos emerged as mass entertainment, spaces of public leisure and of culture. In the past, they served as monuments and expressions of the degree of “civilization” and progress of a city and its respective country. In Latin America, zoos date from the last quarter of the 19th century. The history of Latin American zoos is a political, cultural, and social history. The conditions of their creation and operation over the decades have conferred important specificities to these institutions. Since their inception, zoos in Latin America have reflected nationalistic aspirations, civilizational projects, and social transformation. Over the decades, the history of many zoos has blended with natural history in Latin America, as many zoo founders were important scientists. The development of new sensitivities toward animals also follows the history of zoos in Latin America from the beginning, because the first animal protection societies appeared at the same time. Today, zoos face vigorous claims from animal rights activists calling for their closure. In view of so many challenges, these institutions are reinventing themselves with an increased focus on conservation and environmental education, joining international zoological societies with high standards of quality. Among several of these societies, the Latin American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (ALPZA) stands out. Founded in 1990, ALPZA organizes, reshapes, and integrates Latin American zoos, establishing global connections. Various actors play a role in the defense and contestation of zoos, such as politicians, scientists, conservationists, animal protection societies, anti-zoo activists, visitors, administrators, officials, and, of course, thousands of wild animals from all over the world who have lived in Latin American cities for decades.