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Afro Argentine

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Afro Argentine
Africano Argentino
Notable Afro Argentines:
Gabino Ezeiza • Higinio D. Cazón • Enrique Maciel
Total population
"Black": c. 52,000
"African ancestry": c. 2 million
(Roughly 0.1% of total Argentina's population)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Buenos Aires

Spanish language


Predominantly Roman Catholicism

Related ethnic groups

Afro-Latin American, Cape Verdean Argentines, Afro Brazilian, Afro-Uruguayan

The black population resulting from the slave trade during the centuries of Spanish domination of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata had a major role in Argentine history. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it comprised up to fifty per cent of the population in some provinces and had a deep impact on national culture.

In the nineteenth century, it declined sharply in number as a result of the wars of Independence (most of the soldiers were black Argentine men), high infant mortality rates,low number of married blacks,the War of the Triple Alliance (most Argentine soldiers in this battle were black as well), cholera epidemics in 1861 and 1864, as well as a yellow fever epidemic in 1871.

By the late 1800s, the Afro-Argentine population was consisted mainly of women,and mixed with the European immigrants that arrived. With thousands of immigrants of Europe arriving to Argentine soil, and most black women intermarrying with them, noting that their populations were already low, the Afro-Argentine population faded into oblivion.

In 2006 there was a pilot census on this issue in the neighborhoods of Montserrat, in Buenos Aires, and in Santa Rosa de Lima, in Santa Fe, revealing that 5% of the Argentine population admits having ancestors of African descent and that an additional 20% believes it could share this ancestry but is not sure.

This research supports the claim by the Center for Genetic Studies of the School of Arts and Sciences of the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) that an estimated 4.3% of the people living in suburban Buenos Aires have genetic markers of African descent.[3][4] Today there is still a notable Afro-Argentine community in the Buenos Aires district of San Telmo.


Introduction and origin of Africans during colonization

From the title page of abolitionist Anthony Benezet's book Some Historical Account of Guinea, London, 1788

As part of the process of Conquest, the economic regimes of the European colonies in America developed various forms of forced labor exploitation of the American aboriginals. However, the relatively low population density of some of the South American territories, resistance from some Aboriginal groups to the acculturation and especially the high rate of mortality of the submission, the type of work and diseases introduced by Europeans resulted in the decline of the native population, led them to supplement the manpower that they provided with slaves from sub-Saharan Africa. Mexico and Peru alone lost nearly 90% of their indigenous population in the first 50 years after the Conquest.

Until well into the nineteenth century, mining and agriculture accounted for the bulk of economic activity in America. Africans offered to the conquerors the advantage of having already been exposed by their geographical proximity to European diseases, and at the same time be tailored to the tropical climate of the colonies. In the case of Argentina, the influx of African slaves began in the colonies of the Rio de la Plata in 1588, although these early arrivals were largely the work of smuggling, and trafficking flourished through the port of Buenos Aires when it gave the British the privilege of entering a share of slaves through it. The kings of Spain held, to provide slaves to the East Indies, contracts "seat" (asiento) with various companies, mainly Spanish and Portuguese. In 1713 England, victorious in the War of Spanish Succession, had the monopoly of this trade. The last seat was agreed with the Royal Society of the Philippines in 1787. Until the 1784 ban blacks were measured and then marked with iron.

As to its origins before the sixteenth century slaves had arrived in relatively small numbers from the Cape Verde islands, but the majority of Africans who were introduced to Argentina came from the territories of the current Angola, Gambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Guinea and the Republic of the Congo, belonging to the ethnic group that speaks the family of Bantu languages. Groups of Yoruba and Ewe, who were taken in large numbers to Brazil, immigration was more limited.

It is estimated that 30,000,000 Africans were shipped to America, of which only came alive 6,000,000, which entered mainly through the ports of Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Valparaiso and Rio de Janeiro. It must be noted that nearly 4 million of those became the ancestors of the Afro-Brazilian population.[5]

The slaves went to work in agriculture, livestock, domestic work and to a lesser extent crafts. In urban areas, many slaves are engaged in handicrafts for sale, whose revenues earned their bosses. Buenos Aires neighborhood of San Telmo and Montserrat housed a large quantity of them, although most was to give the interior. The census conducted by Juan Jose Salcedo of Vértiz and in 1778 yielded results very high in the provinces of increased agricultural production: 54% in the province of Santiago del Estero, 52% in the province of Catamarca, 46% in Salta province, 44% in the province of Cordoba, 64% in the province of Tucuman, 24% in the province of Mendoza, 20% in the province of La Rioja, 16% in the province of San Juan, 13% in the province of Jujuy, 9% in the province of San Luis. In other provinces were an important part of the population, one of the slums of the city of Corrientes leads to today's name-Camba Cuá the Guarani kamba KUA, "cave of blacks."

As for the city of Buenos Aires,in 1806/07 there were 15,708 whites,347 Indians and mestizos,and 6650 blacks and mulattos, while in 1810 there were 22,793 whites, 9615 blacks and mulattos, and only 150 Indians. The area most densely populated by blacks was located in the neighborhood of Montserrat, also called Barrio del Tambor, a few blocks from the current Congress.

The nations

The Casa Mínima, built by freedmen following the 1812 abolition of slavery in Argentina.

Slaves would group themselves in societies they called nations, some of which were Conga, Cabunda, African Argentine, Mozambique, etc.

The meeting places of the nations had in common their locations in artificially flattened and sanded opened spaces for dancing; others were closed in with interior free space. In some cases the rooms were carpeted and curtained thanks to the generosity of a master. The nation had its king and queen (who in reality were democratically elected and had no court) and centered around a throne that was erected in the best place of the flag along with its flag, which every nation had. There was also a platform or at least a dais, which among other things was used to receive great dignitaries such as Juan Manuel de Rosas, his wife, and his daughter, as portrayed in a painting by Martín Boneo. The headquarters was the site of social gatherings and dances.

Oftentimes the black societies centered around the barrios, such as the del Mondongo nation or the del Tambor society. The first was one of the most important in Buenos Aires and was composed of 16 blocks in the barrio of Monserrat. Its name came from the fact that its members consumed a large quantity of tripe (mondongo), which was sold by vendors to the cry of Mondongo, Mondongo!. In regards to the name Tambor, it was quite common for a town to have a nation with that name, as it was the favored instrument for dances and songs.

Sometimes slaves were purchased individually from abroad through an agent. For example, a letter send from Rio de Janeiro says:

My dear sir: on behalf of the schooner Ávila I send you the negro girl that you charged me with purchasing here. She is thirteen or fourteen years old, was born in the Congo, and is called María. I will put on record that I have received the five hundred peso price. Greetings to you.

Africans in the formation of Argentina

Despite widespread slavery, testimonies of the time argued that in Buenos Aires and Montevideo slaves were treated with less cruelty than elsewhere.

Jose Antonio Wilde, in Buenos Aires in the early independence period (1810-1880) said that:

the slaves had been treated with genuine affection for their masters, having no point of comparison with the treatment given to other colonies.

This was not prevented from acknowledging however that:

the tormented love more or less at this hapless fraction of the human genus (and that) between us were usually very badly dressed.

The same opinion on the best treatment left us in their testimony that they were foreigners. For example, Alexander Gillespie, skipper of the British army during the British invasion, wrote in his memoirs that it was surprised how well they were treated in contrast with our planters in the Caribbean and Guyana, and continued:

"These unhappy exiles from their country, so they are bought in Buenos Aires, the first care was to instruct his love slave in the native language of the place, and the same in the general principles and beliefs of their faith" ... . "The masters, as I have observed, were equally attentive to its moral home. Every morning before they were to love the Mass, congregated in a black circle on the floor, young and old, giving them work of needle and fabric , According to their abilities. Everyone seemed jovial and I have no doubt that the reprimand also entered the circle. Before and after lunch, and dinner in one of the latter was presented to ask for blessings and give thanks, what we were taught to regard as prominent duties and always complied with solemnity.

—Alexander Gillespie, Captain of the British Army, 1998

In 1801 the first black militias were organized and regulated in the Company of the Grenadier Brown and Brown as a military corps segregated from the rest.

During the days of the Invasion (1806) originated in an uprising of black slaves in Buenos Aires encouraged by the rise of abolitionism of slavery in England. They believed that the British expedition came mainly to give them their independence. But the English general, William Carr Beresford, had no sympathy with this movement. The spokesman for the Creoles in Buenos Aires, Juan Martín de Pueyrredón argued that it threatened to ruin the country's economic base if slavery were quick eliminated. He demanded action on behalf of their estates and thus Beresford issued a directive in which he ordered that it be told to make the slaves understand that there were not here to change the present situation. ("It is the shortcut to time," wrote Pueyrredón in July 1806 in a letter to his stepfather in Cadiz). This measure would contribute to the defeat of the English occupation, because it drove the slaves to fight against them.

Following the defeat of the English the Cabildo de Buenos Aires declared a main objective to "see how to banish slavery from our soil." In 1812 Bernardo de Monteagudo was prevented from assuming membership of the First Triumvirate, due to its "questionable mother," referring to his African ancestors. Paradoxically, Bernardino Rivadavia was one of the objectors. He was also a descendant of Africans.[6] The Assembly XIII of the Year, the first constituent body of Argentina, ordered the release of slave children, but did not recognize the existing right to the emancipation of the slaves . Many of them were part of militias and irregular troops that eventually would shape the Argentine Army, always in segregated squadrons. They could however, if they were not complying with his master, ask to be sold and even find themselves a buyer.

Until the abolition of slavery in 1853, the Law Rescue forcing the owners of slaves to cede 40% of them for military service. Those who had full five years of service would obtain manumission, but that was rarely the case.

In the Northern Army commanded that José de San Martín and Manuel Belgrano the freed blacks made up to 65% of the troops. St. Martin came to the conclusion that there were 400,000 African-Argentines who could be recruited into armies homelands.

The armies of Independence recruited large numbers of slaves that existed in the territories conquered in the realists, offering them freedom in exchange. Many of them included the Battalion No. 8, which was part of the line of shock at the Battle of Chacabuco which recorded large numbers of casualties.

During the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas the black population of Buenos Aires rose to 30%. From that time dated the introduction of the Argentine Carnival (similar to that of the Rio de Janeiro carnival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and the development of rhythms as candombe and milonga that would become an integral part of the folklore of Argentina. Rosas was known his great appreciation for the black population, and his frequent attendance at the candombes. Many of the gauchos who developed tasks in the field at the time were Afro-Argentinians.

Roses in 1837 passed a law expressly prohibiting the purchase in the sale of slaves in territory and in 1840 issued its statement of the total abolition of the slave trade by the Rio de la Plata in all its forms. The National Constitution of 1853 abolished slavery, but legally only with the reform of the Constitution in 1860 to abolish the settlement was complete freedom of slaves brought by their foreign masters to Argentine territory.

Domingo F. Sarmiento's term as President of Argentina from 1868-1874 happens to be one of the two factors that the traditional history assigns to have attributed to the cause of the mass death of Afro-Argentinians: the War of Paraguay (1865-1870) and the yellow fever epidemic in Buenos Aires (1871). Sarmiento had expressed strong racist ideas and a clear position on the need to eliminate Afro-Argentine component of the population.

One of the key passages of Martin Fierro, written in 1872 and considered the national book of Argentina, consists of two encounters of the protagonist with black gauchos: the first is murdered with apparent disdain in the first part of the book, and with the other, which happens to be son of the former, several years later, argues a famous payada.

After the abolition of slavery Argentinean lived in miserable conditions and discrimination. The proof is that of the fourteen schools in Buenos Aires in 1857 admitted only two black children, despite the fact that 15% of students that year were of color. Similarly, in 1829, in Cordoba only those Afro-Argentines entering secondary school could be there for two years instead of the four years for white Argentines. Universities did not allow Blacks into their alumni until 1853.

The Afro-Argentines began to publish newspapers and to organize for the common defense. One of the newspapers, "The Unionist", published in 1877 a statement of equal rights and justice for all people regardless of skin color. In one of his numbers read:

The Constitution is a dead letter and the Counts and Marquises abound, which, following the old and odious colonial regime intended to treat their subordinates as slaves, without understanding that among the men who humiliate there are many who hide under their clothes a coarse intelligence superior to that of the same outrage.

Other newspapers were "The African race, or black Democrat" and "proletarian" (both 1858). 1880s in the city there were about twenty of such newspapers. Because of this organizational activity, some investigators have considered the social movements that were Afro Argentine who introduced socialism and the idea of social justice in Argentine culture

Also some entered politics. For example, Joseph M. Morales, an active colonel in the militias, became a deputy provincial constituent and then provincial senator in 1880, while Lieutenant Colonel Sunday Sosa became deputy twice and a constituent in 1853.

What happened to the black population?

File:José Ignacio Garmendia-Soldado paraguayo ante el cadáver de su hijo.jpeg
To the bloody War of Paraguay (1865-1870) and the Yellow Fever Epidemic the drastic diminution of the Afro Argentine population has been attributed.

Traditionally it has been argued that the black population in Argentina declined since the early nineteenth century to insignificance. However, the pilot census conducted in two neighborhoods of Argentina in 2006 on knowledge of ancestors from Subsaharan Africa verified that 5% of the population knew of African ancestry, and another 20% thought that was possible but not sure. Given that European immigration accounted for more than half the growth of the Argentine population in 1960, some researchers argue that rather than decrease what they had was a process of "invisibility" of the population Afro Argentine and their cultural roots.
Other researchers have argued that there was a deliberate policy of genocide against the Afro Argentinian, which was openly expressed by many Euro-Argentines as Domingo F. Sarmiento and was probably implemented by using repressive policies during epidemics and wars as a tool of mass destruction.[7] The theories argue that genocide may have been used to explain the decline in the population. Experts were pursuing similar arguments, but differ on the attribution of intent that was first attributed to the ruling classes.

Causes of reduction

Among the reasons expressed are:

  • Heavy casualties caused by the constant civil wars and foreign wars: Blacks formed a disproportionate part of the Argentine army in the long and bloody War of Paraguay (1865-1870), in which the loss of lives on both sides were high. The official historiography maintains that this resulted in the disappearance of the black population, while the genocide claims contend that the disproportionate recruitment was intentional.
  • Epidemics, especially of yellow fever in 1871: the traditional history holds that the epidemics had greater impact in areas where the poorest people lived, whereas the vision that sustains the existence of a genocide underlines the repressive mechanisms that enabled upper-class groups to leave the affected areas at the same time, forcing African Argentines to stay locked up and thus aggravate health conditions.
  • Emigration, particularly to Uruguay and Brazil, where black populations had historically been larger and had a more favorable political climate;
  • The massive immigration from Europe between 1850 and 1950, boosted by the Constitution of 1853, that quickly multiplied the country's population. Like Australia in the 1950s to 1980's, European immigrants were encouraged while non-Europeans were virtually excluded.
Domingo F. Sarmiento defended racist ideas and was president when the events occurred that were attributed to the mass mortality of Afro Argentines

Domingo F. Sarmiento

Domingo F. Sarmiento , who was president during the great yellow fever epidemic and the War of Paraguay, events to which is assigned the extermination of the Afro Argentine, had a strong racist position and argued the need to eliminate the black population. In 1848 he wrote all this in his diary during his trip to the United States.

Slavery in the United States today is without question a possible solution; 4 million are black, and within 20 years will be 8. Rescue, who pays 1,000 million pesos worth? Libertos - or Freedmen, what is done with such blacks hated by the white race? Slavery is a parasite that the vegetation of English colonization has left attached to leafy tree of freedom. Did it not dare to uproot the tree when it could, while leaving the dead, and the parasite has grown and threatens the whole tree gleaned?

Years later the same Sarmiento wrote:

I come to this happy Chamber of Deputies in Buenos Aires, where there are no gauchos, or black, or poor.

—Cited by Ruchansky

Expressions of Sarmiento is an example of the attitude taken by the Argentine State after slavery was abolished by amending the census classifications so there is no record of their presence, eliminating the categories of people "black" or "brown", to merge it with other groups under the banner of "Trigueña."

Some of the few researchers in the situation of Afro Argentinians the end of the nineteenth century, have argued that his alleged posting by the European immigrants is not compatible with the fact the high rate of masculinity of the latter. By contrast, the data strongly suggests a high degree of mixing between Europeans and Afro Argentinean.

We must also bear in mind that non-European immigrants settled in large numbers in the northern provinces, where the population was predominantly black.

In 1887 the percentage of black population was officially calculated at 1.8% of the total. From that moment will not be registered in the census. The State's position was again made explicit at the time of the National Census of 1895 when its leaders said:

Will soon be completely unified population forming a new and beautiful whites.

Since then, and for nearly a century, in Argentina virtually no studies were conducted on the nature Afro Argentinians.

Beginning in the 1930s began to place large internal migrations to Buenos Aires and other urban centers to be integrated as factory workers in the industrialization process open then. Beginning in the 1940s, his presence was crowded and was disparagingly called for large sections of middle and upper class, "black heads."

Only in recent decades have there begun to appear research both historical and sociological aimed at the black population, with results that have been received with surprise and in some cases rejected by large segments.

In recent years, have multiplied the studies, activities and organizations related to population Afro Argentine. The overall result indicates a presence both physically and culturally far greater than that posed formally.

Afro Argentine woman

Afro Argentine upper middle class women

The arguably biggest reason for the small Afro presence in Argentina, despite there once being a fairly sizeable population at one time, is warfare. Afro Argentine men were heavily involved in the country’s wars against Great Britain, Spain, Brazil, and even the indigenous peoples of Argentina. Another reason in addition to warfare is that they were systematically being mixed out by mingling with European immigrants and the white Argentines as well. Also, Afro-Argentines that were free, were set loose into very poor living conditions.

Slavery was officially abolished in Argentina in 1813, however, many blacks were still held as slaves, and were only granted their freedom by fighting in Argentina’s wars. For this reason, black men served very disportionately in the war against Spain for Argentina’s independence. When you look at the huge number of black men killed in the war compared to the white Argentines, you can come to the conclusion that these black men were being used as a “cannon fodder”, and were deliberately being placed on the frontlines. In fact, when you observe Argentina’s history, their government has purposely sent as many blacks as possible to battle in dangerous military service. Not to mention their mission of “killing two birds with one stone” by sending the Afro Argentines to war against the Amerindians (Indians), who the white Argentines despised as well.

While the black Argentine men were getting killed in warfare, black Argentine women were without mates. So these black women began to produce mix children with the European immigrants. This mixing created another problem for the Afro Argentines though, since having an African heritage wasn’t considered proper, and was even seen as a burden to many mulattos. It is for this reason that many light mulattos passed for white or trigueño (a dark skin white person), and were even careful not to associate themselves with the Afro Argentine community. With the obsession of the Argentines to become a white nation, “passing” became popular for the mulattos in Argentina. In fact, it was very rare to find a mulatto who had the chance to pass, not utilize this advantage.

Ironically for the Afro Argentines, a free black in Argentina had less chance for survival than an enslaved black Argentine did. An enslaved black was seen as an investment so he or she was taken good care for; on the other hand free blacks were left with menial jobs for low pay, or became beggars in the streets. For this reason the poverty in the Afro Argentine community was terrible. In fact, a large portion of blacks died from disease, because they couldn’t afford proper medical care. Many Afro Argentines were decimated by frequent plagues like yellow fever.[8]

The Afro Argentine Community in the present

Today in Argentina, the Afro-Argentine Community is beginning to emerge from the shadows. There have been black organizations such as “Grupo Cultural Afro”, “SOS Racismo”, and perhaps the most important group “Africa Vive” that have help to rekindle interest into the African heritage of Argentina. There are also Afro-Uruguayan and Afro-Brazilian migrants who have helped to expand the African culture. The Afro-Uruguayan migrants have brought their candombe to Argentina, while the Afro-Brazilians teach capoeira, orisha, and other African derived secular dances.

The question that remains now is “how many people in Argentina can claim African ancestry?” However, the exact number is actually quite difficult to calculate. As stated earlier, many blacks that could used to “pass” for mulatto or white, so for this reason, people may or may not be aware that they had a black great grandparent. In fact, many researchers believe that possibly as many as 10% of Buenos Aires residents have African ancestry, but are unaware of it. Also, as Anthropologist Alejandro Frigerio noted, “The term ‘negro’ is used loosely on anyone with slightly darker skin, but they can be descendants of the indigenous Indians or Middle Eastern immigrants. Not to mention the fact that it has been well over a century since Argentina has reflected the African racial ancestry in its census count. Therefore, calculating the exact number of Afro-descendents is very difficult; however, Africa Vive calculates that there are about 2,000,000 Afro-descendents in Argentina.[9] [10]

African influence in Argentine culture


It is possible that the most lasting effect of the black influence in Argentina was the tango, which charges some of its features of the festivities and ceremonies that slaves developed in the so-called tango houses of assembly in which are grouped with their permission masters. Milonga and chacarera also draw their influence and the payada; addition to the brown of the fictional Martín Fierro was the famous payador Gabino Ezeiza. The pianist Rosendo Mendizabal, author of The entrerriano was black, and Cayetano Silva, composer of the music of the March of San Lorenzo. And Zenón Rolón, who wrote the funeral march in 1882 was executed in honor of the liberator José de San Martín to return his remains to Argentina.

The language of Argentina is full of African terms, eg mine (used as a synonym for woman), maid, mondongo, quilombo, banana, arroró, marote. Moreover, many terms of slang are the same origin as: Mandingo, milonga, zamba etc. In religious terms, in addition to the festivities of Carnival, the veneration of the legendary San Baltasar, the wizard king black, still popularly venerated, Corrientes and San Benito.

Poems by Afro-Argentinians

In the midst of my people I am isolated,
because where my crib is Meciar
Dumped with momentum on his side,
a breed of outcasts has been
since that race I belong.
And we have no homeland, if it exists,
We knew from her womb conscribir;
the charges are sad for a man.
And if we are right one,
must be the right to die.
(1869) Horacio Mendizabal.
Oh damn thousand times
you are white without faith, your cruel memory
Baldone is eternal for your story.
(1878) Casilda Thompson.
There is no longer bottle Negroes,
or black that sells fruit,
much less a fisherman;
because those Neapolitans
son until pastry is
and we want to remove
the craft of bleach.
color There is no longer a servant of my color
Bachicha Todito because they are;
soon by Jesus Christ!
zamba dance with the drum.
Anonymous poet, probably from the late nineteenth century.

Colonial racial categories

During the colony, the Spanish authorities described as different "varieties" from "crossing" include those resulting from the union of black African people with people of other ethnic origins. The names used were:

  • Hexadecaroon: sixth-generation black ancestry.
  • Mulatto: black/white mixed.
  • Tercerón: white/mulatto mixed.
  • Quadroon: one-quarter black ancestry/one-quarter white ancestry.
  • Quinterón: fifth-generation black ancestry/one parent who is an octoroon and one white parent.
  • Zambo: black/Amerindian mixed.
  • Zambo Prieto: black/Amerindian mixed with predominant black.
  • Morisco: mulatto and white.
  • Albino: white and Morisco.

Socially, possess a "crossing" in the family tree was a macula. These classifications, and other common in the colonial culture, as "mestizo" or cholo, were used to stigmatize people and prevent their social advancement. In some cases, well-known historical personalities were found in this situation, as Bernardo de Monteagudo and Bernardino Rivadavia, were described as "mulatto".

Immigration after the nineteenth century

Immigrants from Cape Verde

Between 12,000 and 15,000 descendants of immigrants from Cape Verde living in Argentina, of whom about 300 are native to the African country.

This immigration began in the late nineteenth century and became important from the '20s. The busiest periods were between 1927 and 1933 and the third, after 1946.[11] These migrations were mainly due to droughts in the African country that originated famine and death.

They were expert sailors and fishermen, which is why most places settled in ports such as Rosario, Buenos Aires, San Nicolás, Bahia Blanca, Ensenada and Dock Sud. 95% of them got jobs in the Navy War in the Merchant Navy in the Fleet Fluvial Argentina in YPF, dockyards or ELMA.[11]

Expelled from Africa

In Buenos Aires

The popularly called Barrio del Once there are many Africans who have come to escape the misery of their countries, particularly Senegal. According to the Agency for Refugees in Buenos Aires, seeking asylum, get a visa to travel to Brazil and then Argentina, sometimes traveling as stowaways on ships. When denied a residence permit, remain in the country without status and become lawful targets of human trafficking network. On Sunday some of the Senegalese community comes together to eat traditional dishes of their country. Some places already have African food recipes.[12]

In Rosario

In recent years, Africans being exploited beyond their home countries by war or persecution, for religious, ideological or political, they arrive as stowaways to the country, particularly the port of Rosario, province of Santa Fe. Although figures are inadequate increase every year: in 2008 landed 70 people seeking refuge, against some 40 of the previous year, but only 10 remained, the rest were repatriated. Many are children.[12]

They usually get on the ships without knowing where they go, or believing they are going to a developed country in the northern hemisphere. They come from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and New Guinea.[12]

The first African who started this new immigration arrived in the city of Rosario 12 years in 2004 and caused a stir. It was adopted by a family, but most are not so lucky. Many children have been housed in temporary homes and many adults live in rented rooms and earn money as street vendors. Some family formed and settled. Others became offenders.


In the early 90s until the 2001 economic crisis as a result of a policy of peso-dollar conversion, there was an influx of poor countries who came to the country to work to earn high wages measured in dollars and return to their home with money earned. Then they began to get Dominican women of African descent into prostitution either voluntarily or have fallen into a network of trafficking.

A second wave of immigrants of this class started in 2008: Dominican requests to settle in the country rose from 663 in 2007 to 1,168 in 2008 according to statistics from the Directorate of Immigration. It imposed controls in order to detect "fake tourists" and fight the gangs that brought them. So in April 2009 some 166 Dominicans were rejected and returned to their country.[13]

Racism in Argentina related to skin tone

In Argentina, as in other countries of America, racism-related skin tone or the people of African origin dates back to the days of colonial rule. In the caste system imposed by Spain, the descendants of people from black Africa occupied a place still lower than the descendants of persons belonging to aboriginal peoples.

The racist colonial went some way to the Argentine culture, as shown by some racist comments of the president Domingo F. Sarmiento. During the mid-nineteenth century, were common to the death duels between gauchos and mestizos afroargentinos. In Argentine literature, these disputes are represented with a racist tinge in a famous passage from the book by José Hernández, Martin Fierro (The way), published in 1870, in which the main character is a bat with a gaucho black mourning after insulting his girlfriend and insult to the following verse:

For the whites did God,
mulattos to San Pedro,
Blacks made to the devil
for blight of hell.

Several years later, in 1878 Hernandez publishes the second part of his famous book, which holds a famous Fierro payada in that debate philosophical topics (such as life, creation, existence, etc.). With another who is black gaucho be the son of former literate and unique character of the famous book. Showing the evolution of the character and probably of Argentine society in the process of receiving millions of European immigrants, this time Martin Fierro avoids the duel when it seemed inevitable.

The invisibility of deliberate Afro Argentinians and culture, is another striking manifestation of racism in Argentina, related to the tone of the skin or African origins.

In 2006 the president of the National Institute to Combat Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) recognized the invisibility of Afro Argentine with the following words:

The afros in Argentina have been "invisible" and today unseen continue. This is the result of a process of diaspora caused by slavery and its transformation into servitude. The current social stratification places them in poverty.

A special type of discrimination has been widespread since the mid-twentieth century, using derogatory terms such as "black heads", "black", "bold", "black" and that are related primarily to workers in lower classes. In many cases, have been "racialised social relations," and simply uses the term "black", to name a derogatory to the worker, unrelated to the color of their skin. In labor relations is commonly used among people who hold positions of importance in companies in personnel management, workers refer to as "blacks". Also in the political life it is customary to refer to supporters of Peronism as "black".

In this particular manifestation of racism in Argentina, has been unified under the term "black" or "black", discrimination against persons belonging to the indigenous peoples, as well as that of Latin American migrants and their descendants, and directed against Afro Argentinians .

One manifestation of this racism is present in the songs employed by the swollen football, where discrimination on ethnicity or nationality is conspicuous; in one particularly famous example, was "accused" by the fans of Boca Juniors to be "dirty blacks from Bolivia and Paraguay".

Africa Vive

Recently, there has been a growing interest into Argentina’s African heritage, as well as their African descended community. A group of Afro-Argentineans called “Africa Vive” (Africa lives), led by Maria Lamadrid, have emerged on a mission to fight discrimination, as well as raise awareness of the plight of the Afro Argentinean community and their place in Argentina’s history. Maria Lamadrid, who founded Africa Vive in the late 90’s, has helped to bring the racism and discrimination in Argentina to the forefront. She struggled in her youth to receive an education since she was both black and poor. For this reason, she ended up cleaning other people’s houses to make a living, like other poor women in Argentina do. Maria has seen the racism up close and personal there every day. In fact, a few years ago when Maria wanted to travel to Panama, she went to the immigration counter with her new Argentine passport, when the immigration officer saw the passport, the officer began to scream that “it is a fake”, and then this officer detained her. The only reason they could give for detaining her is that “there aren’t any blacks in Argentina.”[15]

Although Maria encounters racism as well as discrimination on a daily basis in her country, it has done nothing but inspire her, as well as her Africa Vive foundation to push forward towards equality. In fact, in 1999, Africa Vive organized a very well publicized conference against discrimination at the University of Buenos Aires. Africa Vive also was invited to attend the Durban UN Conference on Racism. At this conference, they made a presentation about the socio-economic situation of the Afro-Argentines, such as the high amount of unemployment in the Afro Argentine community, as well as the problem with naturalization that blacks receive because of racist immigration policies.

Argentina has been a country that not only denies having an Afro-descended community, but has done everything to erase Africa from its past. The Afro-Argentine community currently faces issues of high unemployment, racist immigration policies, as well as denial about their existence; however, there is hope for this country’ black people. In 2001, Afro-descended groups like “Grupo Cultural Afro”, "SOS Racismo", and of course "Africa Vive" came together to convince a national deputy to organize a ceremony in memory of the black soldiers who died fighting (as a “cannon fodder” in many cases) for Argentina’s independence. In this ceremony, the national deputy spoke in honor of the great fallen soldiers, in addition to awarding degrees to the heads of several black organizations. For Argentina to have an event that not only acknowledges the African contributions to the country, but also puts the Afro-Argentines in the spotlight, is truly a very remarkable thing. This event was certainly a huge step for Afro-Argentines toward reaching their goal for equality, however, they still have many more miles to walk, but there is certainly more hope for the Afro-Argentine Community to reach this goal than there has been in a very long time.


On October 9, 2006, created the Forum of African descent and Africans in Argentina, with the aim of promoting social and cultural pluralism and the fight against discrimination of a population in the country to reach the two million inhabitants.

The National Institute to Combat Discrimination (INADI) is the public body responsible for combating discrimination and racism.

Notable Afro Argentines

See also

Argentina portal


  1. ^ "Afro-Argentine". Joshua Project. U.S. Center for World Mission. http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?rop3=116003. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  2. ^ Black Latin America
  3. ^ "Casi dos millones de argentinos tienen sus raíces en el Africa negra". http://www.clarin.com/diario/2006/06/09/sociedad/s-03801.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  4. ^ "Negros en el país: censan cuántos hay y cómo viven". http://www.clarin.com/diario/2005/04/02/sociedad/s-04815.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  5. ^ "La presencia negroafricana en la Argentina: pasado y permanencia, por Miriam Victoria Gomes, Bolteín digital de la Biblioteca del Congreso, Nº 9, 2006". http://www.bcnbib.gov.ar/bibliopress/bibliopress9-2.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  6. ^ "Afroargentines: The Argentimes". http://www.theargentimes.com/culture/thecity/afroargentines-/. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  7. ^ "Presencia negra y mecanismos de invisibilización, Miriam Gómez, Jornadas de Patrimonio Cultural Afroargentino, Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 2006". http://www.buenosaires.gov.ar/areas/cultura/patrimonio/comision/invitacion.php?menu_id=10122. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  8. ^ Afro Argentine woman
  9. ^ Afro-Argentina & Bolivia
  10. ^ Los negros invisibles
  11. ^ a b Caboverdianos: vientos de cambio, Revista del diario La Nación, 03/12/2009
  12. ^ a b c Los expulsados de la tierra africana, Por Evelyn Arach, Diario Página 12, 29/12/2008
  13. ^ Argentina redobla el combate contra las mafias de trata de dominicanas 29/04/2009, Mujeres españolas en Argentina
  14. ^ "Contra la discriminación de descendientes de africanos". http://www.clarin.com/diario/2006/10/10/sociedad/s-03906.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  15. ^ "Una mujer denunció que la discriminaron por ser negra, Clarín, 24 de agosto de 2002". http://www.clarin.com/diario/2002/08/24/s-03001.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 

External links


All translations of Afro-Argentine

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