Buena Vista

Life and Work on a Puerto Rican Hacienda, 1833-1904

By Guillermo Baralt

Translated by Andrew Hurley

Buena Vista

208 pp., 8 x 10, 136 illus., 32 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4801-2
    Published: June 1999

Buy this Book

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit Bookshop.org

Awards & distinctions

1992 Elsa Goveia Prize, Association of Caribbean Historians

This book traces the history of Buena Vista, an estate located in the southern foothills of Puerto Rico's central mountain range. Now a popular living history museum, Buena Vista flourished in the nineteenth century--first as a farm that furnished food for the city of Ponce and surrounding plantations, later as a producer of corn and cornmeal ground at the estate's water-powered mill, and finally as a coffee plantation.

Drawing on an impressive range of primary sources, Guillermo Baralt portrays the estate's history as a series of overlapping changes: from slavery to salaried labor, from primitive processing techniques to the latest in mill technology, from Spanish rule to American control, and from hard-scrabble country life to life as part of the world marketplace. Richly illustrated and written in a lively narrative style, Buena Vista paints a compelling portrait of an era, an island, a family, and an estate, bringing a period in Caribbean history to vivid life.

About the Author

Guillermo A. Baralt is professor of history at the University of Puerto Rico.
For more information about Guillermo Baralt, visit the Author Page.


"A revealing story of agricultural modernization."--Choice

"Out of the more than a score of agricultural estate histories that were originally researched and published in the Latin American history field in the 1970s and 1980s, Guillermo Baralt’s work stands out as one of the most durable and most useful, especially as it is packaged in this 1999 edition. . . . Buena Vista can be used productively by both students and specialists alike. As a course text, because of its broad thematic applications, it can be used effectively in Latin American history and Latin American studies courses."--The Americas

"This is an exceptional book, one that any visitor to Puerto Rico should read before making an obligatory visit to the island’s Living Museum of Art and Science."--Planeta.com

"This splendid book explores the 'other side' of Caribbean agrarian history--the one not dominated by plantations or other large estates. It is the story of a dynamic and successful farming and milling enterprise founded in the southern foothills of Puerto Rico's central mountain range by a Venezuelan emigre who fled his country's independence wars. Baralt ably recounts the history of the proprietor and his family, of the market economy in which they operated, and of the slaves and waged laborers who sustained the operation over many decades. Thanks to this wonderful English translation, a contemporary Caribbean classic is now accessible to a wider readership."--Francisco A. Scarano, University of Wisconsin-Madison