African American Slavery in Mexico - Tom West
According to author J. K. Turner, Tom West was born free in Kentucky and later became a slave in what was described as an experiment in Mexico. Turner met West in 1908-1909. West had earned $2 per day in a brickyard in Kentucky, and he left the U.S. for Mexico by way of Florida along with 80 other African Americans, with the promise of earning $3.75 or 7.5 pesos per day. They were to work at coffee and rubber plantations in La Junta. Once in Mexico the group was locked away at night, and armed guards watched over them as they worked during the day. Unbeknownst to West and the other African Americans, they had been sold as slaves to an American plantation owner and were forced to work off their purchase price before they would be paid for their labor. Those who escaped and then captured were beaten, and according to Turner, the Diaz government turned a blind eye to the whole affair. African American slavery in Mexico was considered a failure, and Tom West was freed after two years on the plantation but remained in Mexico. For more see Barbarous Mexico, by J. K. Turner.