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Crowder Publications

P.O. Box 62921 Phoenix, Arizona 85082-2921

Phone:602-957-3741

 

BLACKS in PERU 

Occupying the lower echelon of the society in Peru are the Afro-Peruvians. For the most part in their four centuries in Peru they have been identified with poverty and by many modern day Peruvians are considered as an embarrassment and in a sense as negating the purity of what it means to be Peruvian. With some rare exceptions they generally live on the margin of society and are victims of both outwardly and subtle discrimination and racism.

During much of colonial history they made up half of the population of Lima and in some occasions outnumbered the Spanish. The first blacks arrived in Peru with Pizarro and through the early 1800ís more then 100,000 blacks would arrive in Peru as slaves. Many of the slaves were not sent directly from Africa but had already been assimilated into Spanish society in Spain with both language and Catholicism. In fact many of the slaves had actually been born in Spain and a good percentage were actually mulattoes. Slave sellers used two distinct terms in identifying their slaves as to where they were from. Bozal refered to a slave who was inexperienced and who just arrived from Africa. Ladino described a slave who could speak Spanish and was considered experienced.      They occupied primarily the coastal region working both on the sugar and cotton plantations as well as personal servants. They also played an important role in the colonization as metal smiths and carpenters. The upper tier of slaves was comprised of artisans who had been trained in Spain and were highly valued. Slaves while not generally occupying the highlands were regarded as experts with mules and were used extensively in transportation of cargo via mule trains. Unskilled slaves played a minor role in mining, which was reserved, primarily for Indians.   There were rebellions dating back to 1540 and a number of slaves would escape their imprisonment and establish small isolated communities. A group of about 200 slaves in 1535 developed a small outpost outside of Lima and were armed. They were all killed by a contingent from Lima as they refused to surrender.  Emancipation was granted in 1854. However, most government policies have neglected them and they have advanced little in terms of education or economics. Furthermore, they have little chance of social mobility.

It is estimated the current black population of Peru is between 5%-9% and is still largely concentrated along the coast. Apart from Lima with the largest concentration the Lambayeque Department in the north and the southern province of Ica and Tacna have the highest concentration of blacks. For the most part they continue to struggle in order to exist economically. There is scant attention paid to their needs or development by government programs or outside agencies. Indigenous groups seem to relish much of the attention especially as they seem to gain more power as a unit.

Most Afro-Peruvians are still employed basically in the labor sector with very few moving into professional fields or being able to secure the education necessary to do so. Those living in Lima are primarily work as domestics, hotel services and watchmen. They also dominate the pallbearers industry for funerals. It is considered almost elegant and chic to have black pallbearers perform at funerals. Also, at most of the upper tier hotels blacks work as the doormen and one has considered to have arrived if they have a black butler. Many of the blacks outside of Lima are involved in farming and are at tied to middlemen for much of their financing and seldom are able to break this noose. 

Despite a law put in place in 1997 to outlaw discrimination it remains often in subtle and overt forms. There is very few if any which could be called middle class. However, there are areas in sports and music in which blacks have at least raised their economic position. Members of the almost entirely black soccer club Alianza Lima stand out as a hope for many young black youth as to a route to fame and wealth. However, Afro-Peruvians basically stay to themselves as a group and many parents attempt to persuade their children to marry outside their race to help avoid discrimination. Despite the disinterest in afro-Peruvians by the government, they clearly hold a heritage which contributed significantly to the conquest and other aspects of Peruvian society.    

By Nicholas Crowder / copyright 2004/ May not be retransmitted or copied without prior written consent. Furthermore, it may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written consent from Nicholas Crowder - crowdpub@mindspring.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATIN AMERICA TRAVELER AND CROWDER PUBLICATIONS MAKES EFFORTS TO VERIFY INFORMATION IN THIS PUBLICATION. HOWEVER,IT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS OR ADVERTISING INACCURACIES. ALSO, THE PUBLISHER DISCLAIMS ANY PERSONAL LIABILITY,EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR ADVICE OR INFORMATION PRESENTED WITHIN/Copyright 2001,2002,2003,2004