After much delay, Bernardo Macaya finally arrived in Cartagena de Indias in late October 1675. The chief constable of the city of Portobelo in Panama had hastily arranged for Bernardo’s departure to Cartagena shortly after taking office some weeks before. The magistrate had heard worrisome notices about Bernardo during his time in Portobelo and had discovered equally disturbing accounts about him in paperwork left by the previous constable. Bernardo, a thirty-four-year-old West Central African slave of “Congo caste,” was a feared and renowned ritual practitioner operating around Portobelo. The chief constable was worried that he would not be able to keep Bernardo in prison or, worse, that he would end up like his immediate predecessor in office: dead. His fears were eventually realized by the events surrounding Bernardo’s departure from Portobelo....
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