Covid-19; interview, hispanoamerica and the presence of afro-colombian


Carlos Jara Cuevas

International policy, security and international technical cooperation analyst. International press. 

London 19/06 / 2020

Our interview with Leidys Emilsen Mena Valderrama , Afro - Colombian sociologist is to think and reflect from Latin America as part of the world stage and before the events of the covid19 back n to be made on the historical situation and contemporary presence of African descendants in this part of the continent , in order to present this interview we are going to get to know the analysis of the problem as a State policy from the stage in the Republic of Colombia. We will also refer to the situation of the Afro-Peruvians to partially visualize their history and the situation in which they find themselves with respect to the reality of Afro-Colombians as well as to learn about historical similarities and the problems of the fight against slavery , the holocaust and the exclusionary invisibility in today's society.

The study by Dr. Flaminio G. Álvarez Rodríguez on the presence of the African in Cajamarca is a very special and particular work of a region known not for the past of the slave trade but for the great mining exploitation of gold and other minerals and metals there exist but nothing warrants mining because no one has come out of extreme poverty, the population subsists in the informal economy and the work of the field. But let's return to its historical past of the Viceroyalty of the Kingdom of Peru , Cajamarca is also the place of the battle and capture of the Inca Atahualpa by the hosts of Francisco Pizarrio and the army of Indians at the head of their noble lords opposed to the imperial rule of the Incas Quechuas, that human and military strength was an ally of the small conquering army where when the domain changed, the strong white immigration settled and mixed with the native , and it is interesting to know that in this region the Quechua language is hardly spoken unlike from other regions of Peru.

In the presentation of the aforementioned book, Professor Socorro Barrantes Zurita points out the following; "A Cajamarca came from Angola, of Malambo, of Mazambi, Cape Verde, Mandinga, NALU, Berbesi, Camume or Bengal among other places more. They came through the Ports, crossing seas and times of limitless oppression, overcoming the fragility of the ships, the fury of the gods of the sea and the land, the malice of the slave owners who wounded both men and women of "color. "". In the same presentation he tells us about the sale of slaves there in the Plaza de Armas de Cajamarca next to the traditional viceregal pool and the city's cathedral in the middle of a Fair organized by the Corregidor of the time for more reference is to the In front of a well-known cafeteria in the city "El Salas" and the "Hotel Peru" , in this central place the sale and purchase of slaves was a spectacle, so much so that important families showed off their wealth by buying black slaves for their servitude as who buys a luxury object or a horse of good stock. The same presenter points out “In some ranch in these mountainous lands, the moan of Francisca negra bran valued at 450 pesos or that of Francisca daughter, aged 14 valued at 400 pesos, or that of Catalina or perhaps that of Juanita of 5 years, valued at 150 pesos or that of María's son , valued at 120 pesos or that of Isabel Negra Conga, valued at 550 pesos ”. Cajamarca was the city where the presence of the black slave was one of the most important during the period from 1600 to 1855, nor did the independence of July 28, 1821 declare them free in their entirety but only those who were born from that date , and in the Republic the armed conflict between the military led by General José Rufino Echenique and Marshal Ramón Castilla, the end of slavery was recently achieved due to the offer of both sides to integrate them into their armies and cancel the debt for the purchase of the freedom of the blacks that ended up becoming a public debt with the caudillo Ramón Castilla who was constituted after defeating his opponent in President of Peru, therefore there is nothing to be thankful for but to remember the decisions of interest of the economic, political and military of the time. The owners of the slaves, the landowners did not lose anything or were ruined, many of these slaves became day laborers, supporting their families, transmitting poverty and marginalization as an inheritance to their descendants, and the landowners collected money from the State for their liberation. blacks, round business and corruption involved. From those times to these years there is no trace of the descendants of black slaves in this region because apparently they went to occupy the Pacific coast more according to the climate than to the intense cold of the Sierra Cajamarca, this may have happened as in the Gibraleon city in Spain where black slaves lived that left traces of their extinction genetics and in Cajamarca it is also probable , but as the author explains, few studies have been developed in Cajamarca on this part of the history of Peru.

We are a country in which the majority population is indigenous, as well as racial miscegenation forms a multicultural mosaic that is expressed in Peruvian society historically faced with racism and xenophobia, and in the case of the Afro-Peruvian people, it is distinguished in an abysmal way the invisibility of more than 4 million afroperuanos populating the Peruvian coast and whom the State institutions do not s represent or integrate it but it discriminate and marginalize the fact his condic ion African descent . An example are the Afro-descendants of the first port of Peru, Callao, school and university dropouts coexist with them due to lack of resources, and in the field of health, 44% of people in that region suffer from TB, anemia, malnutrition and drug addiction far apart from crime, being a region like Callao the richest in economy for receiving the customs fee that is over 2 billion soles and even so the infrastructure in education and health is in total disgrace in the midst of the drama of the covid19, and with fish factories in the high seas, it is not even possible to make fish available as humanitarian aid in all human settlements in the constitutional province where there is also a lack of drinking water and sanitation , we believe that a minimum standard of regional and municipal authorities should n appealed to corporate social responsibility and works to eradicate these evils tax.

The afroperuano people does not even have a law on integration and recognition as well as its claim of historical, civil rights , economic and political by its original condition is triangular practiced slavery in Peru d the Viceroyalty and during the first decades of the Republic and only saw the black freedom as we have said before, at the time of the Government of Marshal Castilla in which they were given freedom in the interests of warlords and because it was no longer business having them in the s hacie ndas charge of their masters. In this sense, its historical roots and social and cultural roots have been postponed until today, the so-called "historical forgiveness" that Alan García raised in 2009 is not enough , it was only a salute to the flag, there are no State policies affirmative in the face of the historical debt due to their historical condition of slaves , neither is there in the various transversal public policies, the mere existence of the Parliamentary Commission where the Afro-Peruvian problems converge does not translate into legislative initiatives favorable to their visibility in all public institutions such as for example the Afro quota within them so far not   recognized .

Nelson Mandela said "I forgive but I do not forget", in his fight against apartheid in South Africa, after being sentenced for 30 years in prison, he left the jail dungeons to assume the Presidential mandate of his country. Here, oblivion is historical and in force for generations, because no one wonders what it will be like to live under the skin of a black man, while Afro-Peruvians do.

Before the bicentenary of the Creole independence which so publicizes the President Vizcarra , it does not mean a landmark historic because we owe nothing to this event or the General San Martin and less to Simon Bolivar, but rather to l perennial memory of their slavery their pain and their chains suffered in many of the estates of the ancestors of the twelve families that owned the monopoly groups of speculative banking and financial power that today monopolize the economy and public policy of the country. And to the shame of this government's former Minister of Culture Sonia Guillen public in all media an exclusive pamphlet for blacks in Peru of how to be careful in the covid19 blacks , this authority racist and xenophobic motivation gives also the rampant corruption in his Ministry ended up resigning from his post without even apologizing for such clumsiness.

The history of afros in Hispanoamerica is the story of the Holocaust until today I never noticed, is the footprint more bloody work dehumanizante human from being in these you Erras for trafficking triangular in the slave trade promoted by the Portuguese empire British and monarchies of the Netherlands with which the greatest fortunes of the old monarchical, aristocratic and financial oligarchic Europe were born , it is useless to knock down statues of great slave traders protected as corsairs and pirates of those kingdoms and empires, when the problem is still pending on the planet . A time in Africa and the Middle East where there are still the slavers under the cloak of religious wars, the terrorism and the control of natural resources such as oil , the diamonds or experimentations vaccine from pharmaceutical corporations against This population being instrumentalized as sources of exploitation and wealth continues this human postponement . This COVID19 crisis is showing that these events continue to be reproduced within a geopolitical plan against humanity and its future, that is, the nation state against corporate globalizers without a nation or a country.

And before starting the interview, I quote a musical composition "El Payande " by composer Vicente Olguin performed by the Afro-Peruvian singer Lucha Reyes who died in the 70s of the 20th century in which he recounted the Afro-descendant holocaust ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQIDWBqLuVk

I was born on the beaches of Magdalena
Under the shadows of a payande
As my mother was a black slave
Also the brand, I carried it

Oh damn luck to wear chains
And be the slave,
And be the slave of a vile lord
Oh damn luck to wear chains
And be the slave,
And be the slave of a vile lord

When in the shadows of a palm tree
I seek to hide from the harsh sun
Fierce whips cross my back
And they remind me that I am a slave

Oh damn luck to wear chains
And be the slave,
And be the slave of a vile lord
Oh damn luck to wear chains
And be the slave,
And be the slave of a vile lord

If I could take my spear
Take revenge on my lord
I would gladly see his house burn
And tear his heart out

Oh damn luck to wear chains
And be the slave,
And be the slave of a vile lord
Oh damn luck to wear chains
And be the slave,
And be the slave of a vile lord 

For all these reasons, we have the opportunity to count on the Afro-Colombian Sociologist * Leidys Emilsen Mena Valderrama , an expert in the matter and with a long history in the analysis and studies of this social problem with whom we will address the situation in which they find themselves, the neuralgic problems of its population and levels alc to n zados legal and legal recognition and the current state of social exclusion of a large part of the Afro - Colombian citizen in the Republic of Colombia. 

1.- What is the scenario of the Afro-Colombian people in the face of the economic crisis and covid19.

Currently in the communities AfroColombian it is n making clear the centuries of neglect and inequality. Afro-Colombian communities represent more than 10% of the total population of Colombia, but they are the ones with the worst living conditions, in the Pacific region, the region where the greatest number of Afro-Colombian people are concentrated, the poverty and extreme poverty rates are highest. across the country, the department of Chocó, for example, which has the highest rate of Afro - Colombian population with 82% , is one of four departments in the Pacific region where poverty has worsened. Three of the four departments with the highest number of Afro-Colombians do not have second-level hospitals to attend health emergencies such as the one generated by Covid-19, they also lack basic services such as drinking water, 100% sewerage services, and the indices unemployment rates are also the highest in the entire country.

Some Afro-Colombian communities in predominantly Afro-rural areas are growing primary products, but there is no clear policy to get these products to markets and city squares, many are losing crops while other communities are without food.

  1. Explain what is the status legal of Afro - Colombians in the Constitution of the Republic ú Republic of Colombia.

The black communities in Colombia were recognized as subjects of collective rights and a constitutive part of the nation with the Political Constitution of 1991, in the seventh article of the constitution the ethnic and cultural diversity of the nation is recognized. In this constituent process, transitory article 55 is also created that orders the creation of a law for black communities, that law was called Law 70 of 1993, Law of black communities, this norm includes the collective rights of black communities, they are recognized territories as ancestral and the respective actions that the State must take to guarantee compliance with those rights are ordered. Law 70, recognizes the black communities that had occupied uncultivated lands in the river basins of the Pacific Region, in accordance with their traditional production practices and the right to collective property, the right to land is recognized from the cosmovision of the communities themselves. The law also has the “purpose of establishing mechanisms for the protection of the cultural identity and the rights of the black communities of Colombia as an ethnic group, and the promotion of their economic and social development, in order to guarantee that these communities obtain conditions real equality of opportunities compared to the rest of Colombian society ”. (Law 70, 1993) .
Several following years began to issue the regulatory decrees of the law, some of them are: Decree 1745 of 1995 “By which Chapter III of Law 70 of 1993 is regulated and the procedure for the recognition of the right to the collective property of the “Lands of the Black Communities”.

E l Decree 22 48 1995, sets the parameters for recording or RGANIZATIONS base of the Black Communities, to exercise ownership over collective territories.

Decree 3770 of 2008 seeks to "regulate the High-Level Consultative Commission of Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizales and Palenqueras Communities and establish the requirements for the Register of Community Councils and Organizations of said communities."

Po steriormente arises the A uto 005 2009 compliance issued by the Constitutional Court, which seeks to protect the fundamental rights of the population of African descent victim of forced displacement product of the Colombian armed conflict.


3.- How do you appreciate the global social explosion of the murder of George Floy d in the US ? UU. that problems of Afro-descendants have been put on the table of international politics.

What happened to George Floyd was the cup that overflowed the Baso , because the communities of African descent in the world suffer racism as if slavery still had not been completed . About 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in the United States can be killed by the police, so black boys and men in the United States are 2.5 times more likely than white men and boys to be killed by police in the United States. United black people represent 16% of the total population of the country, but they constitute 40% of the prison population of that country. In Brazil, more than 71% of those killed by the police in Brazil are black. In Latin America blacks / African descent are 26% of the total population yet more than 7 5 % of them live in poverty and extreme poverty. The conditions of extreme marginality that characterize the lives of black people are created with colonialism, and although it is assumed that slavery has already ended, its consequences have not, and they are deepening every day, black people are more murdered by the racism that is a product of colonialism, they are not killed because they are more evil or more criminal, they are killed because colonialism determined that their lives are not worth, they do not matter, these dynamics of subordination that oppress Afro-descendant communities constitute the social structure, That is why the United States is not different from Latin America or from any other country. Western canons, children of slavery and colonialism, designated a place for people of African descent. Because of these precarious social conditions of black people, demonstrations against racism are justified, they are plenty of reasons that drive black people to reject the systematic violation of their rights.

4.- What are international organizations doing for Afro-descendants in Latin America?

International organizations are also dedicated to making policy recommendations that governments should apply so that people of African descent have guarantees in the exercise of their rights, but this does not transcend practice, they are mere dead letters. So people are tired, because there are centuries of promises and promises, but living conditions do not improve.

5.- What are the most urgent demands of Afro-descendants from the institutions and international humanitarian law, before the current international order.

Initially, we could say that educational policies are required that allow the gradual elimination of discriminatory racist practices against the Afro-descendant population. Latin America has denied its Afro imprint and that denial has strengthened racist practices, undertaking policies to transform this is necessary and urgent. The difference cannot continue to be considered as a threat or as an inferiority, we must take this leap.

6.- What it means to be Afro-Colombian in the Republic of Colombia.

Being Afro-Colombian means being everything and being nothing at the same time, being everything because Afro-Colombian communities have been fundamental in the construction of the nation, from the colony to today, but being Afro-Colombian is also nothing because of the denial of these contributions in official history , facts that are products of the structural racism that is anchored in the entire social structure of the country. 

Leidys Emilsen Mena Valderrama   

She is a sociologist from the University of Antioquia, an ethno-educator and a specialist in psychosocial processes, she studied basic education, gender and early childhood public policies and is a teacher in Cultural Studies.  

She has been Municipal Councilor for Afro-descendant Public Affairs and Policies in Medellín and Departmental Consultant for Black Communities in Antioquia. 

She has worked as an ethnic trainer and lecturer in the country and as a public policy advisor with a differential focus in public and private institutions, and has some experiences in South America, the United States and Europe. 

Some recognitions:

  • Award (2019) "Dispersed and Inéditos D. Emilio Castelar 2019" Recognition for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, Education in Values ​​and the Dissemination of African and Afro-descendant Culture. Madrid Spain.
  • Recognition (2017) "Community Leader" (honorable mention) Negritudes Management Government of Antioquia and Directorate of Ethnicities Mayor's Office of Medellín.
  • Recognition (2016) “Afro-reference” from the Negritudes Management, Government of Antioquia.
  • Recognition (2015) “Gold Version Female Merit Medal” from the Mayor's Office of Medellín.
  • Recognition (2014) "Popular and Community Educator Woman" Gold Medal Secretariat of Women Mayor of Medellín.
  • Recognition (2013) "Woman Builder of Peace and Reconciliation" of the Honorable Constitutional Court of Colombia.
  • Recognition (2012) "Colombians who change the world - Nonviolence Pedagogue " AECID - Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

She is the author of the book " Ethnoeducation and Chair of Afro-Colombian Studies-CEA". Coordinator of the ethnic organization Lospalenkes, Delegate of the Vida Foundation - Green Ecological Group for Latin America and the Caribbean and creator of the platform for cultural visibility and educational promotion Choco the choloate of Colombia.       


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