Oil and Coffee: Latin American Merchant Shipping from the Imperial Era to the 1950s

Oil and Coffee: Latin American Merchant Shipping from the Imperial Era to the 1950s

Oil and Coffee: Latin American Merchant Shipping from the Imperial Era to the 1950s

Oil and Coffee: Latin American Merchant Shipping from the Imperial Era to the 1950s

Synopsis

"Latin Americans as sailors?" This remark caused laughter among 19th-century foreign observers, particularly British observers. Yet, Latin Americans did struggle to create important merchant fleets, an effort largely ignored outside the region. This book rescues Latin American shipping from oblivion. In a chronological narrative, it presents the most important events in the emergence of Latin American shipping. While focusing on the shipping companies, the book also roams widely into governmental policy, foreign relations, and naval affairs.

Excerpt

"Latin Americans as sailors?" This remark evoked laughter if not ridicule from foreign observers of the nineteenth century who could only wonder at what the world was coming to. British observers were particularly insistent about the inability of Latin Americans to handle ships at sea or even to manage complex shipping enterprises. Yet in spite of all this scorn and ridicule, Latin Americans struggled to create important merchant fleets in the region, an effort largely ignored. To rescue the shipping of the region from oblivion, this book follows a roughly chronological narrative in order to present the most important episodes in the emergence of Latin American shipping. The focus is on the companies themselves, but like my previous Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Merchant Marine and Shipping Industry, this book also roams widely into governmental policy, foreign relations, and naval affairs.

Unique circumstances have made it possible for me to present a story whose fragmentary record has been disappearing as fast as, if not faster than, the old ships themselves. While it is hoped that this book will encourage other scholars to pursue detailed studies on specific countries, the cases already appearing here reveal how significant a factor shipping has been in the region. Sometimes shipping has been the catalyst and even the cause for changes occurring inside the individual countries. At other times the struggles and clashes inside Latin America have been reflected in its shipping as the section on the Mexican Revolution reveals. Thus merchant shipping, as a window on and as a partial explanation for the forces that have been at work in Latin America, deserves the attention it has rarely received.

The book is divided into two parts: the first covers the history of Latin American shipping until the 1930s, and the second until the 1950s. Part I briefly summarizes the age of sailing ships and then traces the history of the first steamship companies in Latin America. Up to 1914, the emphasis remains . . .

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