HISTORY OF AFRO-CHILEANS
The black population in Arica was considerable. The city was founded in 1570 and was part ofPeru until 1880, when it was taken by Chilean forces during the War of the Pacific. At the beginning of the Colonial era, Peru was one of the frequent destinations for blacks that had settled at the coast to work in rural and domestic occupations. It was a different immigration compared to the rest of the continent.
Most of the black people that came to Peru were from the Antilles or towns in Africa, specifically from the regions surrounding and including Congo and Angola. They were not a homogeneous ethnic group, like the immigrants and descendants of slaves in Cuba and Brazil, so they were integrated into the Peruvian culture, forming a new identity.
Arica was one of the main cities to receive these people. There are several confusing reasons for this. First, the city was the main port that exported Bolivian silver to Europe. It was a productive area due to the Azapa Valley and its production of sugar cane and cotton. The city was quite isolated during those years: the communication system was precarious.
The Negro majority made itself felt since the beginning of 1620, when a free black man named Anzúrez and his pal, who was also black, were elected as majors of Arica. The response came right away. Six months later, an order by Peru's viceroy, don Francisco de Borja y Aragón, declared these nominations to be void.
The participants of the Oro Negro foundation believe that the mixed-race Chilean conformation owes much more to the Negro community than what is traditionally stated. To them, the common idea that the Chilean nation was formed solely by Europeans is incorrect.
Mulatto child of Chilean descent
It is documented that the Chilean national dance, the cueca, had black elements in its original concept; originating from the Afro-PeruvianZamacueca. Also, the famous Historian Francisco Antonio Encina once wrote that 13 percent of the explorers that came to Chile with Diego de Almagro were black. Historian Gonzalo Vial Correa mentions that "up to the year 1558, the number of blacks, mulattos andzambos in Chile was of about 5,000; compared to 34,000 Spaniards, 92,000 white, 27,000 mestizos and 18,000 Indians".
From another perspective, during the Colonial times Chile was part of the black slave trade. They came through two routes: one that started at the Iberian peninsula and went down all the way to Portobelo, Panama or Cartagena de Indias. Slave traders would get several of these "black goods" and delivered them to the markets of the "Nueva España", Central America and Peru. Slaves that got to the Chilean ports ofCoquimbo and Valparaiso had a price that was two or three times higher.
The second most direct route started from Buenos Aires and went through Cuyo to Mendoza. It crossed the mountains to the Aconcagua valley, where slaves were delivered to Santiago and Valparaiso. Most of them were sold and transported illegally. During the 18th Century,Valparaiso was an important port for the slavery business. According to the Oro Negro foundation 2,180 slaves were shipped to the Callao port in 1783.
Afro-chilean old man
A specific group of blacks in Chilean history are the members of the 8th Regiment of The Andean Liberation Army that fought the Spaniards in Chacabuco. That was the Army organized in Argentinian territory and led by San Martin to liberate Chile and later allow the liberation of Peru. San Martin demanded black slaves as contribution to the Liberartion Army by the Mendoza landowners, because in his opinion blacks were the only people capable to participate in the infantry component of the Army, and included them in the forces commanded latter by O'Higgins. They were included in the Andean Liberation Army and received their freedom after the crossing of the Andes and the fight against the Spaniards. As members of the infantry they were exposed to the higher risks during the battle. This episode of the history of Chile is very seldom mentioned and that group of blacks has never received any recognition for their contribution to the liberation of Chile.
The African minority that lived in Santiago, Quillota or Valparaiso began to mix with gypsies, and Europeans, shaping a whole new ethnic and cultural identity for Chile.
Chile banned slavery in 1811 through the "Liberty of womb" law made by Manuel de Salas, seven years after he had read the following announcement in a newspaper: "For sale: 22 to 24-year-old mulatto, nice condition, good price." Thanks to this ban, dictated in 1823, Chile became the second country in Latin America to prohibit slavery, after Haiti.
Finally, there was one more event that added the African inheritance to the Chilean blood. When the city of Arica was finally integrated to Chile, in 1929, a lot of Afro-descendants began living under the Chilean law. They are part of the "Black Arica", and they work daily to promote their traditions and culture, proving that their influence goes beyond the "cueca" or "zamacueca" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro_Chilean)
CHILEAN HISTORY THROUGH THE LENSE OF
Afro-Chilean woman from Arica,Chile
Afrodescendants in Arica
The black population in Arica has always been noumerous. Founded in 1570, this city belonged to Perú until 1929, date in which it passed definitively to Chile.
Since the begginings of its colonial period, Perú was one of the most frequent destinies of the slave ships in South America. Callao port, very close to Lima, recieved huge amounts of blacks, who basically settled in the coastline valleys as workforce for rural work and for servitude. Hence this immigration was different to the existed in other areas of the continent.
Most of the blacks that arrived to Perú were creoles of the Antilles or members of different towns of the african continent, specially of Congo and Angola. This is why they didn´t constitute specific races -as the Yorubas in Cuba and Brasil-, but spreaded ones, who gave birth in peruvian land to a new social and cultural identity.
Arica was one of the principal cities to recieve this population. The reasons are multiple and unclear. To start with, this city was the principal port were merchandises brought from Potosí (Bolivia) were shipped to Europe. Then we find that Arica was a real oasis in the middle of the dessert, basically thanks to the Azapa valley were the sugar cane and cotton grew perfectly well. Besides these, we have to mention the isolation in which Arica was by those years, times when the communications were much more precarious than nowadays.
Finally, the calamities resulted in another important factor in this city. The frecuent earthquakes, pirates robberies and basically the malaria that flagellated the zone, frightened away the spaniards towards the neighbor city of Tacna. The blacks, in many cases immune to paludism, did not have problems in staying in the coast. According to historiographer Ricardo Palma, in 1620 there were in Arica over one thousand black slaves and almost one hundred free ones.
Don Juan Mendoza y Luna, Marquess of Montesclaros and viceroy of Perú from 1607 to 1615, wrote the following in his memories: “The lack of service in all this province (Arica), forces everything to be black property, and out of the mixture of these with white people mulattos have resulted. Also the little amount of women from Castilla there were at the beggining and the left overs that grew afterwards, have occasionated the mestizos.”
The black majority was felt the first day of 1620, when a free black man surnamed Anzúrez and his partner, as black as him and also benefited with freedom, were elected mayors of Arica. Nevertheless, the reaction was fast. Six months later an order from the viceroy of Perú, Don Francisco de Borja y Aragón, that annuled the namings, arrived.
In the XVIII century there were almost no whites left in Arica. Most of them had emigrated towards the neighbor city of Tacna. Hence, three renowned spaniards, Francisco Yáñez, Luis Carrasco and Ambrosio Sánchez kept their residence in the Lluta valley. The reason? A prosperous bussiness: blacks nurseries.
In these places not only they sold slaves, but they also kept females and males dedicated to the procreation of offspring for future merchandise. “Bozales” blacks and also the new borned recieved their owners surnames as a “property brand name”. This way we find that the Yáñez, Carrasco and Sánchez were the most common among the blacks of the zone.
Not only the surnames were used as “origin denomination”. The “carimba” was also very used by slave traders in Arica. It consisted in a mark made with incandescent iron over the black´s back.
What was the price of a black slave in Arica? There are antecedents that describe how in 1724 slaves were bought for about 700 pesos, similar to the price of a property in any important city of America by those times.
In 1871, pure blacks represeted the 58% of Arica´s population. If we add the amount of mulattos and zambos, we conclude that Arica was a basically an afrodescendat city.
Where today runs Maipú street, existed the popular Lumbanga suburb -possibly “settlement” in Congo´s language-, where the black´s economic activities took place. Men dedicated themselves mainly to commerce, while women worked in home labours. In his book “North Borderline”, Alfredo Wormald Cruz, important character in the limited historiography there is about this subject, recreates what must have been life for the blacks of this suburb: “Maybe seduced by the calm life in the 1900´s in Arica, they preffered to insatal in mats located in front of their houses, with a guitar and a jar of wine, they passed whole afternoons and many nights. Among them there were famous guitarrists and vocalists who are still remembered.”
The noumerous black population dispersed in 1929, when Arica passed definitively to be chilean. Most of the afrodescendants, who were peruvian or at least considered themselves to be peruvian, emigrated to the north. Those who stayed in Arica, generally possesed lands in the Azapa valley and, for that reason, these properties were stronger than the citizenship matters.
The Azapa Mulattos
When Arica was under Chile´s domain, many blacks were forced to cross the borderline towards Perú. From the south, hundreds of chileans arrived, who throughout roughness intimidated the peruvians who were still left in the city.
Nevertheless, many african descendants who had lands in Azapa, crossed the borderline, to then go back to their properties secretly through the tableland. Many of them lived hidden for the rest of their lives, while others decided to adopt chilean citizenship.
As years went by, the struggles ended. Arica returned to be the calm city it was long ago, but its colour was discoloured. Chileans, whites, indians, europeans and blacks formed the actual mixture of the citizens. Although this, in Azapa there still exists an important amount of afrodescendants.
Afro-Chilean woman carrying fruit in a basket in Santiago,Chile
Ríos, Corvacho, Báez, Llarena, Cadenas, Baluarte. These are some of the valley´s surnames that still keep their african stigma. People who slowly aim to get back their traditions and and mantain them for posterity.
SOME FAMOUS AFRO-CHILEANS
1. Jose Gil de Castro aka Mulatto Gil is venerated in Chile as the founder of the Chilean school of painting. He was also a Peruvian painter of the times of Independence (early 19th century). He was of poor extraction, probably of mixed African origins. He was known as Mulato because of that reason. He become famous as the painter of the higher society and the revolutionary leaders, not only from Chile but from all Hispanic South America. Most of our history was pained by this man.
Tragically, we don't have a portrait of the man, but we have his work. Some of the paintings of Jose Gil de Castro; the Mulato Gil.
An artistic work by Mulato Gil,
2. Jean André Emanuel Beausejour Coliqueo (born 1 June 1984), nicknamedPalmatoria, is a Chilean footballer who plays for English club Wigan Athletic. He previously played for Universidad Católica, U. de Concepción, Cobreloa andO'Higgins in the Chilean Primera División, for Servette in the Swiss Super League, for Grêmio in the Brazilian Série A, for América in the Mexican Primera División, and for Birmingham City in the English Premier League and Football League Championship. He has more than 40 caps for the Chilean national team, and represented his country at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
3. Antenor Junior Fernandes da Silva Vitoria (born 4 October 1988) is a Chileanfootballer of Brazilian descent who currently plays for Fußball-Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen as striker.
- Beautiful Afro-Chilean lady
- Afro-Chilean lady on the street of Santiago,Chile