Title

FOOD OF THE GODS: CACAO AND THE ECONOMY OF THE PROVINCE OF CARACAS, 1700-1770 (VENEZUELA)

Date of Completion

January 1986

Keywords

History, Latin American

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examines the economy of Caracas Province during the eighteenth century using the staple thesis model of economic development. The staple of the region was cacao, produced on plantations, and exported to the markets of Mexico, Spain and Europe. Of particular importance was the creation of the Caracas Company in 1728, formed for the purpose of shipping cacao to the Spanish market and to prevent contraband trade. It failed in the latter goal due to the incursions of Dutch traders who were aware of the profitability of the cacao trade to Europe.^ The export of cacao from Caracas had an impact upon the regional economy in many ways. Linkages with timber and cattle producers, for example, were established. In one northwest city of the Province, San Felipe, Indians not only worked on plantations, but also proved to be successful as small farmers. They sold their cacao in the port of Puerto Cabello along side larger plantation owners. Thus, San Felipe offers an example of the multiplier effects from a plantation, and the manner in which ties were forged between colonists, internal and coastal cities, metropolis and the international market.^ Quantitative analysis is employed to understand various aspects of the 18th century cacao trade from Caracas Province to Veracruz and European ports of entry. ^