Afro-Colombian




The Black African presence in Colombia dates back to the Hispanic colonial period, but some sources talk about African presence in the Caribbean long before the European invasion. Black African slaves began being imported by the Hispanics in the first decade of the 16th century. By the 1520s, Blacks were being imported into Colombia steadily to replace the rapidly declining native American population. Blacks were forced to work in gold mines, on sugar cane plantations, cattle ranches, and large haciendas. Black African labor was essential in all the regions of Colombia, even until modern times.

Black Africans manufactured textiles in commercial mills. Emerald mines, outside Bogotá, were wholly dependent upon African laborers. Also, other sectors of the Colombian economy like tobacco, cotton, artisanry and domestic work would have been impossible without Black labor. In pre-abolition Colombian society, many Afro-Colombian slaves fought for their freedom as soon as they arrived in Colombia. It is clear that there were strong free Black African towns called palenques, where Blacks could live as cimarrones, that is, they who escaped from their oppressors. Afro Panamanians are also related to Afro Colombians.Black people played key roles in the independence struggle against Spain. Historians note that three of every five soldiers in Simon Bolívar's army were African. Not only that, Afro-Colombians also participated at all levels of military and political life.

Slavery was not abolished until 1851, and even after emancipation, the life of the African Colombians was very difficult. African Colombians were forced to live in jungle areas as a mechanism of self-protection. There, they learned to have a harmonious relationship with the jungle environment and to share the territory with Colombia's indigenous communities.

From 1851, the Colombian State promoted the ideology of mestizaje, or miscegenation. This whitening of the Black African population was an attempt by the Colombian government to minimize or, if possible, totally eliminate any traces of Black African or indigenous descent among the Spaniards. So in order to maintain their cultural traditions, many Blacks and indigenous peoples went deep into the isolated jungles. Afro-Colombians and indigenous people were, and continue to be, the targets of the armed actors who want to displace them in order to take their lands for sugar cane plantations, for coffee and banana plantations, for mining and wood exploitation, and so forth.

In 1945 the department of El Chocó was created; it was the first predominantly Black political-administrative division. El Chocó gave Black people the possibility of building a Black territorial identity and some autonomous decision-making power. Very powerful people in the national government, though, were determined to see the destruction of the new political-administrative unit. Therefore, El Chocó was not given very much attention by the national government, and was instead characterized by a constant pattern of displacement and natural resource exploitation, which continues to this day.

~source of this content is
wikipedia.org~


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