Afro-Chilean are Afro descendants in Chile. They are mainly located in Arica y Parinacota in northern Chile. They are not recognize by the Chilean government as an ethnic. Organizations like Afro-Chilean Alliance(Lumbanga, Oro Negro and Arica Negro) are striving to include Afro-Chileans as an ethnic in the census of 2012. According to Afro-Chiliean Alliance the population is estimated to be 8,000.
The first Afro-descendant in Chile arrived in 1536, with explorer Diego de Almagro, as slaves and soldiers. Slaves were used in agriculture, gold mining, and construction projects. Mortality was high, due to harsh working environment. Slaves were brought in mainly to supplement the native labor population. Being that Chile was far and islolated, the black slave population remain small.
Slaves came mainly from Angola, Congo, and the Guinnea Coast. Slave importation was very costly, due to the long routes, which encourage smuggling. Two main routes were used: the first, until the 1600s, from Buenos Aires via the Montevideo overland, later from Categena, Colombia to Callao Peru by sea, and overland to Chile.
Afro-Chilean were not just slaves, but were soldiers. Some served with distinction, which earned them the encomiendas, land grants with tribute paying natives. Famous encomiendas holders of African descent were Juan Valiente, the first to own an encomiendas, Juan Beltrán, Leonor Galiano, Gomez de Leon, and Cristóbal Varela.
Numerous cimarrón or run-away settlements were formed by slaves, who raided Spanish towns and indian villages. Sometimes cimarrones would ally with indians in raids. Some cimarrón had mulatto population. The Chilean government was in constant fear of black and indian revolt, so in 1647 the Santiago council banned black, mulatto, and indian from traveling at night.
By 1570, Chile had a population of 7,000 afro-descendants. By 1590, 20,000.
Attempts to end slavery began in 1810 with the War of Independence. In order to recruit slaves, the government promised to end the importation of slaves, free all children of slaves, and slaves residing in Chile for more than 6 month would be free. Slavery would not end until 1823, when 4,000 Afro-descent were freed.
After emancipation, Afro-Chileans seem to have vanished from the Chilean historical records. They never emerged as a political force. A census in 1940, put them at 1000 and 3000 mulatto. In 1971, one source claim .017% of the population of 9,786,000. More recently Afro-Chilean Alliance has emerged as a voice of Afro-Chilean, comprised of three groups Lumbanga, Oro Negro, and Arica Negro.
Jose Romero-mulatto, prominent independence soldier, served with great distinction
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