Two Spanish dons came to the barracoon in late June to select new slaves for their plantations in Puerto Principe, on the northwest coast of the island.
Jose Ruiz, twenty-four, made his selections carefully.
The British had been trying for nineteen years, since 1820, to enforce the provisions of a treaty between England and Spain that prohibited the importation of slaves to Cuba and other Spanish dominions.
The captain of the Portuguese slave ship knew, however, that the odds were with him.
He ordered blacks to stand in a row, then inspected their bodies and teeth one-by-one.
Ruiz bought the forty-nine adult males that passed his inspection for 0 each.
One of the captives, a physically impressive twenty-five-year-old named Cinque, used sign language to ask the ship’s cook, Celestino, what would happen to them when they reached their destination.
Celestino smiled and pointed to a nearby pile of beef.
Arriving at their destination, the crew locked the Africans in crude human warehouses.
About ten days after their arrival in Cuba, the captives marched again, this time to a barracoon, or slave stockade, within sight of the city of Havana.