New census brings to light Afro-Mexican heritage

Insight

The history of Africans in Mexico is largely unknown not only within the country but to the outside world. Their history goes back hundreds of years to Mexico's colonial past. The history of Africans in Mexico is largely unknown not only within the country but to the outside world. Their history goes back hundreds of years to Mexico’s colonial past.

The history of Africans in Mexico is largely unknown not only within the country but to the outside world. Their history goes back hundreds of years to Mexico’s colonial past.

A 2015 census in Mexico is now drawing attention to Afro-Mexican communities.

CCTV America’s Franc Contreras reports.  Follow Franc Contreras on Twitter @FrancMex

New census brings to light Afro-Mexican heritage

New census brings to light Afro-Mexican heritage

Underrepresented Afro-Mexican communities are working to change the Constitution to earn their basic rights like healthcare and education. CCTV America's Franc Contreras reports.

The presence of Africa here in Oaxaca State is one of the lesser known aspects of life in the region, one of the most culturally diverse in all of Latin America.

Last year, for the first time, the government conducted an interim census, asking Mexicans: “Based on your culture, history and traditions, do you consider yourself black, meaning Afro-Mexican or Afro-descendant?” Nearly 1.4 million people responded “yes.”

Afro-Mexican communities exist here in Oaxaca State’s Costa Chica region, the neighboring state of Guerrero, and Veracruz state – among others.

An Afro-Mexican leader from Pinotepa Nacional said, as a nation, Mexico is much more than just a mixture of Spanish and Indigenous people.

But images of African decedents in Mexico rarely appear in public. Afro-Mexican communities are almost completely separated from the rest of Mexico. And very few outsiders ever come here for a first-hand look even at their most well-known traditions.

Or this one, depicting a charging bull. Mexico’s national Constitution is the only one in Latin America that does not specifically mention the existence of citizens of African descent.

Afro-Mexican authorities said they are planning to take legal action, and change the Constitution so that it includes them.

Constitutional recognition would finally give them access to medical services, educational grants and social security benefits. For now, Afro-Mexicans, whose decedents came from Kenya, the Congo and later the Carribean, still do not enjoy these basic rights.


James Peterson on African population in Latin America

To further discuss the issues facing African communities in Latin America, especially the Afro-Mexicans, CCTV America’s Mike Walter spoke with James Peterson, director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University.