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Colombia, Afro-Colombian movements and anti-racist protests

Raina Zimmering


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The term Afro-Colombians refers to Colombians of African ancestry. Their presence dates back to the first decade of the sixteenth century when Africans were imported to replace the declining indigenous population. Africans worked as slaves in gold mines, in large haciendas, on sugar cane plantations, and on cattle ranches, mainly in the departments of Chocó, Antioquia, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño in western Colombia. In eastern Colombia, near the cities of Vélez, Cúcuta, Socorro, and Tunja, Africans manufactured textiles and worked in emerald mines outside Bogotá, and labored in tobacco and cotton fields as well as in artisan and domestic work. Today Afro-Colombians make up 21 percent (9,154,537) of the population according to the National Administration Department of Statistics (DANE) of 2002. Due to discrimination, only 4.4 million Afro-Colombians actively recognize their ancestry. They are concentrated on the northwest Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast in the department Chocó, in Cali, Cartagena, and Barranquilla. Indeed, Chocó began as a palenque , a town founded by escaped slaves known as cimarrones. Colombia has the third largest African-descended population in the western hemisphere, following Brazil and the United States. Afro-Colombians played key roles in the independence struggle against Spain. Three of every five soldiers in Simón Bolívar's army were ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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