This article examines the fate of people who had escaped slavery in colonial Cartagena de Indias as well as that of their descendants. In the 1690s, colonial military troops captured many individuals of African descent who had long lived as free in the hinterlands and forcibly transported them to Cartagena city. In the aftermath of these military campaigns, some putative owners filed lawsuits claiming that their ancestors had never relinquished ownership claims to the ancestors of freeborn residents of the forests. Since many of the captives had lived in the hinterlands all their lives, strategies such as performing acts of possession over people of African descent were not available to the claimants. This essay shows how some claimants were nonetheless able to obtain rulings that granted them rights of ownership over free Afro-descended people who had been seized and exiled from their home communities in Cartagena province's hinterlands.

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