The ‘Mariana’ in the Rio De La Plata: a Challenge to Spanish Commercial Policy

By Jerry W. Cooney, published May 1988


South American entrepreneurs, evading customs duty, eroded Spain’s monopoly over trade with its colonies. In 1798, Romero, the greatest merchant in River Plate, obtained permission to purchase ships abroad for the slave trade. The Mariana was acquired in England, and, after consular inspection, loaded contraband – muslins, dimity, batiste, linen and paper – for discharge at an isolated roadstead near Buenos Aires. Romero was irrefutably implicated in the smuggling. The new Viceroy tried to bring Romero to account but was thwarted both by the power of the local commercial elites and Spain’s reluctance to challenge them.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Merchant Marines | Strategy & Diplomacy

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