The paddle steamer known as “La Unión” was discovered in 2017 by archaeologists in the Gulf of Mexico 2 nautical miles from Sisal, but it took 3 years of research to confirm that this was a Mayan slave ship.
La Union illegally arrested 25 to 30 Mayans each month and transported them to Cuba, where they were forced to work in sugar cane fields between 1855 and 1861. According to INAH, this was during the revolt known as the caste war.
Although the ship sank on its way to Cuba on September 19, 1861, and was abolished in Mexico in 1829, slavery continued, and in the same year a decree was issued banning the deportation of the Mayans.
INAH said in a presentation that “for researchers this finding is very relevant.” “Not only is it difficult to identify a shipwreck by name, but it also talks about Mexico’s ominous past that needs to be acknowledged and studied in terms of circumstances and time.”
Archaeologists confirmed the identity of the ship through the side wheeler of a preserved wooden hull and a ship that ignited the ship when the boiler exploded. They also found artifacts, including pieces of glass from bottles, ceramics, and eight brass cutlery used by first-class passengers on board.
The accident killed half of the 80 crew members and 60 passengers on board. It is unclear how many Mayan slaves among the dead were listed as cargo and goods, not passengers.