As the Atlantic slave trade came to an end in Brazil in the 1850s, a new form of trafficking began across the borders of Brazil and its neighboring countries. Free persons—mainly women and children living in small communities in Uruguay and Argentina—were kidnapped to be sold as slaves in Brazil. By analyzing the illegal enslavement of the African Rufina and her family along the border between Brazil and Uruguay in 1854, this study argues that Brazilian catchers opened up a new frontier of enslavement, kidnapping free persons in countries where slavery was already abolished. The kidnappings and the diplomatic problems that they generated brought tensions to the development of international relations between Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Britain in the 1850s and 1860s.

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