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In the 15th century, decades before they sailed into the Caribbean, Spanish merchants, captains, and adventurers had already conquered and enslaved the people of the Canary Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. On the western coast of continental Africa, the Portuguese had been cultivating a slavery-based economic policy. This legacy of conquest and slavery shaped the colonization of Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean. Some of the first American encounters between Europeans, Indians, and Africans took place in Puerto Rico, and its early history of genocidal violence and physical exploitation was repeated throughout the Americas.
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