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Bonaire is an island located off the north coast of South America near the western part of Venezuela, and like many Caribbean islands, Bonaire’s history bears the deep stain of slavery.

Europeans first came to Bonaire in 1499, and upon seeing that the island was worthless for large scale agriculture decided not to settle and develop a colony. Instead, they forced the native population off the island and into slavery, shipping them to work on the large plantations on the island of Hispaniola. In fifteen years, Bonaire had been mostly depopulated. It wasn’t until a Spanish commander brought some cattle and started to raise them on the island, that the Spaniards thought that Bonaire could be used as a cattle plantation worked by natives. Labourers were brought back and in a few years, the island became a center for raising animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys.

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Orange/red colored stone huts which served as living quarters for the slaves are still visible in Bonaire. Photo credit

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