Afro-Paraguayans are Paraguayans of African descent. Their population is estimated to be 65,000 by the Joshua Project. They can be found Camba Cua outside Asuncion; Kamba Kokue outside of Paraguari, and the city of Emboscada.


The first slaves to Paraguay arrived in the 1520s. They were mainly used on cattle ranches, agriculture farms, and as domestics. Paraguay unlike other South American countries did not have a lot resource to exploit, so the slave importation was small. Indians were an adequate work force. African slaves would later be used for iron smelting and road construction. Most slaves came from the Angola region.

Timeline of Afro-Paraguayan

1520s First slaves arrive in Paraguay
1653 black/mulatto town Tobapy
1782 Afro-descendant population @ 10%
1800 black/mulatto town Arequi
1820 black/mulatto town Laurelty
1842 Nov. Free Womb Law, child free after Jan. 1(libertos)
1864 slave population@20,000 ; libertos @24,000 ; afro-descendant  9% of population
1864-1870 War of Triple Alliance-Paraguay fights Argentina, Brazil; afro-descendant prominent in war, fought in segregrated units--fought with fanatical vigor, nambi-i unit of blacks became elite unit--half of paraguaya's population died--took a serious toll on the black population
1869 Oct. 2, puppet government under Brazilian pressure, ends slavery
1903 Black immigration to Paraguay forbidden
1925 Afro-Paraguayan population@10,000
1932-1935 Chaco War took toll on afro-descendant population
1935 Afro-Paraguayan population@31,500
1951 Afro-Paraguayan population 3.5% of population
1960s physical prescence of blasks becoming obscure due to admixture and war


The black population increased by local mating and mixing. By the 1570s, Paraguay had about 3,000 mulattos and mestizos. By 1650, the black population was counted at 15,000, an increase. In 1782, there was a decline to 10,840. 

Paraguay developed a system called the amparo. Free slaves who could not pay tribute to the state would be placed under the government or religious order to work designated lands. The amparo was being in a slave-like status. Religious orders like the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits founded amparo towns like Areguá and Tabapí. Some amparos were founded for military purpose. Towns were founded to mark off Paraguayan boundaries and served as a buffer of attacks, from indians and neighboring states. The town of Emboscada was an amparo founded for military purpose.

The end of slavery was a gradual process. In 1842, Free Womb Laws were enacted which would free the children of slaves, but slavery and the amparo system still continued. It wasn't until the War of Triple Alliance in 1864 did the country end slavery. Slaves and free Afro-Paraguayans were used for soldiers. In 1869, all slaves were declared free. About 33.3% of the population was killed in the war including most Afro-Paraguayans.

Modern Status

After emancipation, records on black Paraguayans become contradictory. One source said the population vanished in the melting pot of Paraguay. Other sources say, they were thriving in the 20th century. The 1925 census reported a population of 10,000 to 31,500. In 1990, the population was reported at 156,000. The Joshua project report the population at 65,000. Afro-Paraguayans have not been studied extensively. Data remain skeptical and scarce.   

The removal of the Afro-Paraguayans community of Camba Cua from their traditional farming land has brought much recognition of the plight of black Paraguayans. 

Works Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.(1999). Africana: the Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books, pp. 1494-1496. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.
Joshua Project. Afro-Paraguayan. retrieved 10-4-2011 
Kamba Cua:Afro-Paraguayan, uploaded by AfroPrideTv on Youtube.