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Soy Negr@! Afro Mexicans Seek Constitutional Recognition During UN Decade of Tribute

By: Patricia Ann Talley, MBA and Editor*

Soy Negr@! (I’m Black) is the slogan of Mexico’s African descendants as they rally for self-identity, and call for legal recognition in their national constitution, so they will be counted in the 2020 census. If successful, this social activist movement will culminate during the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 – 2024), and will be an historic step in human rights for the nation of Mexico.

Finally, after over 500 years in obscurity, world history will soon be changed to include the existence, the contributions, and the culture of Africans that is interwoven into the very fabric of Mexico. It was Africans, not the Spanish who comprised the majority of the foreign population in colonial Mexico. Africans accounted for about 70% of the foreigners, compared to the Spanish minority of 30% 1.

Population by Groups in New Spain

Now! It is time for the story of Afro Mexicans to be told. Soy Negr@!

Soy Negro @

Why is this correction in history important to YOU?

The history of the Americas was written from the perspectives of Europeans, who came to these lands and claimed them, based on a fifteenth century doctrine of religious and racial superiority – their “manifest destiny.” Our histories, and the resulting social and economic policies, were based on the conquest, enslavement, and cultural subjugation of the indigenous and African people that were part of this colonization.

Critical to the world today is that the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues reports that these fifteenth century doctrines of religious and racial superiority are STILL the basis of international law and many national laws, and are the cause of many of our current social and economic problems!2

Do you want peace in the world? Then, the process starts by us “de-colonizing” our minds, and learning the truth about our common history in the Americas, and the rich past and contributions of its entire people. Together, we can work to change our world to have a peaceful and more prosperous future for all. Let the real “discovery” begin!

Why is this important to Afro Mexicans?

Currently, Mexicans of African descent are counted in the national census as part of the indigenous population. But, unlike the other indigenous groups, Afro Mexicans have no distinct language other than Spanish (there are over 60 languages in Mexico). Therefore, they do not qualify for government and private educational grants and economic development support that are provided to the other indigenous communities that are identified by their language groups. Many Afro Mexicans still live in communities that are geographically isolated, with no roads, public utilities, hospitals, schools, etc., and in post-colonial, post-slavery conditions.

House in Costa Chica

Recognition of Afro Mexicans in the national constitution and counting them as such in the 2020 census will help to change the history of Mexico and the world. But, most importantly, it will help to change the lives and living conditions of many Americans!

We are ALL Americans! Soy Negr@!   

About the Author: Patricia Ann Talley is a Whitney M. Young, Jr. Fellow of Economic Development from the University of Michigan. She has lived in Mexico since 1997, conducting post-graduate research and developing strategies for economic empowerment. She serves on the Council of City Leaders for the International Cities of Peace Organization. mailto:pattalley@imagine-mexico.com.

References:

1.Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, La población negra en México, México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1946.

2. United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous People: http://unpfip.blogspot.ca/p/framework-of-dominance-preliminary_03.html. In 1835, Judge John Catron (1786-1865), while seated on the Supreme Court of the State of Tennessee (United States),(6) officially identified “a principle” as part of “the law of Christendom”, specifically, “that discovery gave title to assume sovereignty over, and to govern the unconverted [non-Christian] peoples of Africa, Asia, and North and South America”. Catron declared that this principle had been recognized as a part of the Law of Nations “for nearly four centuries, and that it is now so recognized by every Christian power, in its political department and its judicial.”

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Mexico Negro, A.C. Gets National Recognition for Civil Rights Activities

By: Candelaria Donají Méndez Tello, MBA (translation by Patricia Ann Talley, Editor)

When we talk about the roots that form Mexico, we find that officially there are 62 different ethnic groups, with preserved customs and traditions. When addressing the black presence in Mexico, unfortunately there is little information on the matter, but the black roots of Mexico are so important. The black roots of Mexico are not explained and taught in the school textbooks, therefore still today, many compatriots and people around the world don’t know the importance of our African heritage.

Africans were present in Mexico long before colonial times, but the population increased when enslaved Africans were brought here. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, pioneer of the study of black culture in Mexico and author of books such as Mexico’s Black Population, estimates that the Spanish brought more than 500,000 African slaves to Mexico, and during colonial times there were more Africans in Mexico than Europeans.

Population by Groups in New Spain

For almost 20 years now, I have been working to assess our black roots in my home in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero and Oaxaca. The black presence in our area is manifested in music, dance, poetry, verses, oral tradition, gastronomy and more. In the 1980s, there was renewed interest to conduct investigations into our black culture. Now, we are working with the federal government for constitutional recognition of blacks in Mexico, and conducting a public relations campaign to educate our population so that they will be properly counted in the next census in 2020. DONAJI 8

Professor Candelaria Donají Méndez Tello is a founding member of Mexico Negro, A.C.

Mexico Negro, A.C. (Mexican Black Civic Association) is a non-profit civil society, incorporated in 1997 for the purpose of organizing the communities of African descent in Mexico. The association is directed by Professor Sergio Peñaloza and a group of collaborators of which I am a part. Our mission is: 1) To seek constitutional recognition of the black population of Mexico; 2) to promote the development of Afro-descendant communities in the Costa Chica area of Guerrero and Oaxaca and all states of the country where there is a black population; 3) to rescue, promote and disseminate our cultural traditions; 4) to fight against all forms of discrimination; and 5) to work with the government to eliminate the social invisibility of blacks in Mexico.logomexiconegroac - copia

Our organization also develops workshops for painting; sculpture; drawing of masks; theatre; paper recycling; the preparation of food; medicine; agriculture; percussion and African dance; and the preservation of traditional dances of the area. We dedicate the month of March to celebrate the black population in Mexico.

Our organization participates in numerous regional and international events such as the Forum on People of African Descent; Iberoamericans Against Discrimination; Forum on Afrodescendencia; International Meeting of the Black Family in Windward, Venezuela; and the meeting on the Afrodescendencia in Salvador Bahia, Brazil. We also collaborated with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force in Southfield, Michigan, USA to develop information and teaching materials about Afromexicans in English. We have a website: www.FreedomPathways.org and a travelling exhibition in Michigan.

I am so proud and honored to announce that Mexico Negro, A.C. is now recognized for our work in the area of equality and human rights. It is a long pathway to freedom, but – I have a dream too!

Mexico Negro Honor

* About the Author: Professor Méndez Tello is an instructor at Universidad Autonoma de Guerrero in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero. She is an expert in African-Mexican history and co-founder of the Black Mexican Civic Association. 

Related Articles:

The State of Guerrero is Full of Rich History, Culture, and Ethnic Diversity

Afromexican Vicente Guerrero -A Leader of Liberty, Independence and Peace

Soy Negr@ !(I am Black!)

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Zihua Guitar Fest & Other Special Events in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Guerrero – March 2017

The Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area is host to many tourists and short-term visitors from throughout Mexico and from around the world. Many come in March to attend our Zihua Guitar Festival, along with the many other cultural and community events this month. Enjoy!

Don’t Miss!

Saturday, March 4- Sunday, March 12, ZIHUATANEJO GUITAR FESTIVAL: A week of live music in a beautiful beach front setting. The internationally acclaimed musicians perform, from as far away as Pakistan, Argentina, Australia, Cuba, Spain, Switzerland, and as close as Mexico, the US and Canada. Performances include solos, duos and trios performing blues, classical, flamenco, rock, pop, jazz, and more. The ZIGF offers a week of beach concerts and gala shows in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.

Founded in 2004, the Zihuatanejo Guitar Festival has grown every year in prestige, talent and size. ZIGF is truly a community festival and relies heavily on support from the audience, the community, and the musicians, who donate their time and talent. The operations of the festival are carried out by dedicated community members who volunteer to organize and conduct the event. Individuals and businesses donate funds, meals, airfare, ground transportation, accommodations, audio/visual services and more, making the event a genuine community celebration.

Download the Schedule of Performance Events: Zihua Guitar Fest Schedule

Visit the Zihua Fest website to get a preview video of the performers: 2017 Performers Overview

 Here is a sample of the wonderful talent in the festival.

Maria Teresa Olaya Hernandez & Josue Tacoronte Otero (Cuba), Guitar Duo, Queretaro Mexico. 

They will be performing at a Gala Dinner at the Viceroy Hotel on Monday, March 6 from 6-8 p.m.

For complete information and ticket purchases, visit: www.zihuafest.com

Saturday, March 11, 6:00 p.m., TRONCONES FUNDRAISING EVENT FOR THE KIDS! Enjoy traditional Mexican dishes, buy beautiful jewelry, and enjoy an evening of fun – all proceeds going to the elementary school in Troncones. There will also be student performances. Activities are at the basketball court.

Sunday, March 26, 7:30 a.m., 5th ANNUAL HELENE KREBS ANIMAL (and humans) RACE: One of our main community events, this annual “animal” run raises money for our local humane society – SPAZ. You can sign up for a $100 pesos donation to have your favorite animal participate. Sign-up March 20-25 at SPAZ in Zihuatanejo, located next to the main basketball court, or at Aquapura Purificadora de Agua in Zihuatanejo. Participating categories are for “little ones,” “big ones,” and “others!” Even if you do not have a pet, come out and see this wonderful event – and DONATE to this great cause! To learn more about SPAZ, read: Humane Society of Zihuatanejo Helps and Cares for Local Strays

WEEKLY ACTIVITIES

Thursdays & Saturdays, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., MUSIC, ART, FOOD & DANCE in Ixtapa: Ixtapa ROCKS! Join us every weekend for a cultural festival full of art, music, food and entertainment. Activities take place at the kiosk in front of Nueva Zelanda Restaurant in Ixtapa.

Every Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ECO TIANGUIS ORGANIC FOOD MARKET, PRODUCTS, & ENTERTAINMENT, across from the museum in Zihuatanejo:  It’s a local meeting spot! Enjoy organic food; buy fresh vegetables, honey, and ecological products. Sing, dance, and enjoy life by the ocean. Read: Eco Tianguis Sanka Beachfront Market in Zihuatanejo Offers Organic Foods, Art, and Entertainment

  • Saturday, March 11 at 9:30 AM – Presentation of “Remedies of Maria Sabina” by Franco Laurel

Every Sunday, 7:00 a.m. – 11L00 a.m., FAMILY BICYCLE DAY on Paseo de la Boquita in Zihuatanejo: What a wonderful activity for the entire family! Come out EVERY Sunday with your family!

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL EVENTS

MARCH is Black History Month in Mexico. The state of Guerrero has one of the largest populations of Afromexicans. Mexico Negro, A.C. (Black Mexican Civic Association) is headquartered in Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero in the Costa Chica region of the state.  A memorial celebration recognizing the Afromexican population will take place in Cuajinicuilapa on March 24, 2017. Read: http://imagine-mexico.com/Soy Negr@ – Afro-mexicans Seek Constitutional Recognition During UN Decade of Tribute

Wednesday, March 1, UNITED NATIONS ZERO DISCRIMINATION DAY: Everyone has the right to live with respect, dignity, and pride.

Friday, March 3, UNITED NATIONS WORLD WILDLIFE DAY: All life above the earth, on the earth, and below our waters should be protected and cherished. The Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area is a PLANNED resort community with regulations to ensure the conservation of our wildlife. Whales visit us every year! Read the story: Humpback Whales – These Snow Birds Visit Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Every Year

Wednesday, March 8, INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY:  Women have an extremely important role in a tourism area such as Ixtapa Zihuatanejo. They cook, make handicrafts, own businesses, and help to support their families in a variety of ways. We salute all of the women of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo!!!!

Monday, March 20, CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTHDAY OF BENITO JUAREZ: Benito Juarez was a famous Mexican president and national hero. His actual birthday in on March 21, but it is celebrated on the third Monday in March.

Sunday, April 9 – Saturday, April 15, SEMANA SANTA: In Mexico, this is the time at the end of the 40-day Lent period, when people throughout the country take their vacations to enjoy the companionship of family and friends. Enjoy this precious time with loved ones.

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March is Black History Month in Mexico -Afromexicans Recognized in Mexico City’s Constitution

March is Black History Month in Mexico and, after 500 years in obscurity, Mexicans of African descent are finally being recognized for their presence and contribution to the history and culture of their country. In February 2017, the Mexican people of Afro-descendants were recognized in the Political Constitution of Mexico City (Article 11, Item N). The goal is to achieve recognition as an ethnic group in the federal constitution. This recognition constitutes a fundamental step towards the construction of a more just and egalitarian society where the rights of Afro-descendant people and populations are guaranteed in Mexico.

Mexico City is the largest city in the nation and the largest  city in North America.

In Mexico, the population of Afro descendants has been recognized in the constitutions of the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Coahuila. However, Mexico remains one of the few countries in Latin America that has not recognized these populations in its Federal Constitution, as have Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. Therefore, the adoption of these actions will put Mexico City at the forefront in legal matters, presenting itself as a city that respects human rights and the cultural diversity that enriches it.

Afro-descendants in Mexico?

Many people in the world and within Mexico are unaware of the African presence in the country. Africans were present in Mexico long before colonial times, but the population increased when enslaved Africans were brought to the country. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, pioneer of the study of black culture in Mexico and author of books such as Mexico’s Black Population, estimates that the Spanish brought more than 500,000 African slaves to Mexico, and during colonial times there were more Africans in Mexico than Europeans. The Afromexican population in Mexico is concentrated in the states of Mexico, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Guerrero.

Between 1650 and 1860, approximately 10 to 15 million enslaved people were transported from western Africa to the Americas. Most were shipped to the West Indies, Central America and South America. (Source: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History)

During colonial times, Africans outnumbered Europeans in Mexico by three to one! (Source: Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, La pobalcion negro en Mexico, 1946.)

Afromexican Contribution to Mexico City

Mexico City has a significant presence of Afro-Mexican people, that is, people of Mexican nationality who descended from African women and men because they were separated from their communities of origin and forced to the American continent during the colonial times. During colonial times, Mexico City represented one of the main centers of African and Afro-descendant presence throughout the territory of New Spain. The work of thousands of women and men of African origin of all ages, in various labor activities, was central to the economic development of Mexico City. Thus, for more than five centuries, the economic, social, cultural and political contributions of Afro-Mexican people have been extremely significant in the multicultural conformation of Mexico City.

People of African descent in Mexico continue to face serious discrimination and racism according to discrimination surveys. For example, they are arbitrarily detained and required to prove their Mexican nationality when performing institutional procedures or when traveling on public roads; They are denied access to public health systems despite having the necessary documentation; They are discriminated against in educational settings and face violence and bullying; They are denied jobs despite fulfilling all the requirements, and; Are hindered the right to housing, among others. These practices not only represent a violation of human rights, but also affect the equity, respect and coexistence of society as a whole.

The 2015, a national survey indicated that Mexico City currently ranks fifth in the country with an Afromexican population, estimating that more than 160 thousand people in this entity are recognized as Afro-descendants and thousands more identify themselves as “part” Afro-descendant.

In view of the above, and within the framework of the International Decade of Afrodescendents 2015-2024, declared by the United Nations, with the motto “Recognition, justice and development”, the recognition of Afro-descendants In the Constitution of Mexico City, is a step to guarantee to these people and populations the full enjoyment of their political, economic, social and cultural rights. This is a great opportunity to present Mexico City, before the world and the nation, as a city that respects the cultural diversity that shapes it.

“Las Tres Raices (The Three Races) represents the cultural diversity of Mexico – Indigenous, African, and European.

References:

https://www.change.org: Diputadas y Diputados de la Asamblea Constituyente de la Ciudad de México: Reconocimiento de los Poblaciones Afromexicanos en la Constitución de la Ciudad de México

Related Articles:

Mexico Negro Civic Association Gets National Recognition for Civil Rights Activities

Soy Negr@ -Afro Mexicans Seek Constitutional Recognition During UN Decade of Tribute

The State of Guerrero is Full of Rich History, Culture and Ethnic Diversity

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Special Events and Activities in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Guerrero for November 2016

Every Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ECO TIANGUIS ORGANIC FOOD MARKET, PRODUCTS, & ENTERTAINMENT, across from the museum in Zihuatanejo:  It’s a local meeting spot! Enjoy organic food; buy fresh vegetables, honey, and ecological products. Sing, dance, and enjoy life by the ocean. Read:   Eco Tianguis Sanka Beachfront Market in Zihuatanejo Offers Organic Foods, Art, and Entertainment

Eco Tianguis

Eco 6

Monday, October 31 through Wednesday, November 2, “DIA DE MUERTOS ”(Day of the Dead):  During this time, Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead. This holiday is as important to Mexicans as Thanksgiving is in the USA and Canada. It is a celebration, not of death, but of the continuum of life. Families travel long distances to be with their loved ones on this occasion.  Its origins are distinctly Mexican: During the time of the Aztecs, a month-long summer celebration was overseen by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead. After the Aztecs were conquered by Spain and Catholicism became the dominant religion, the customs became intertwined with the Christian commemoration of All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1. The holiday is joyous celebration!  It is a time for the family to pray, to reflect, to honor and to remember their dead.

Day of the Dead Activities in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo:

  • Monday, October 31, 6:00 p.m., Day of the Dead Pararde, Cancha Municipal (main basketball court)
  • Tuesday, November 1, 6:00 p.m., La Madera Street Party. Everyone is invited. There will be cultural events, games, and activities for the entire family
  • Wednesday, November 2, 6:00 p.m., Closing Ceremonies, Cancha Municipal (main basketball court)

day-of-the-dead-2016

Thursday, November 3 through Saturday, November 5, SEAFOOD & WINE FESTIVAL at Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Hotel in Ixtapa: Come out and meet some of the most famous chefs in the world, and taste the wonderful seafood of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo! Call the hotel for reservations: (755) 553 2025.

seafood-and-wine-festival-2016

Thursday, November 3 and Saturday, November 5, ART EXPOSITION at the Kiosco in Ixtapa: Ixtapa Zihuatanejo is known for its artists! Come out and enjoy an evening of art and entertainment – FREE! Visit the downtown area of Ixtapa (in front of Nueva Zelanda Restaurant) for this community event.

 

Thursday and Friday, November 17 & 18, CONVENTION OF THE BLACK TOWNS OF MEXICO in Ometepec, Guerrero: Blacks in Mexico? Traditionally, the history of Mexico has only included reference to the indigenous and the Spanish people. But in fact, in colonial times, the foreign population in Mexico was about 70% African and 30% European. Each year, Afro Mexicans from throughout the country gather to celebrate their traditions, culture, and experiences. Currently, the Afro Mexican civic organizations, like Mexico Negro, A.C., are conducting a national awareness campaign, and requesting Constitutional recognition by the nation. This is being done in order to receive government funds for economic development in these communities, many of which still exist in post-colonial conditions. November is “Black History Month” in Mexico. No more Mexico without Afromexicans! Read related stories: Day of the Dead Celebration in the Costa Chica Region of Guerrero, Soy Negr@ – Afromexicans Seek Constitutional Recognition During UN Decade of Tribute14753940_10211231184394738_2811552836465330719_o

Sunday, November 20, 5:30 p.m. (sign-up) ZIHUATON ZUMBA at Cancha Munipal (main basketball court in Zihuatanejo): Get out for some exercise, fun, and donate to a worthy cause! Sign-up fee is 50 pesos. Donations are for community environmental projects.

zihuaton-zumba-2016

Sunday, November 20, REVOLUTION DAY – PARADE on Monday, November 21 through central Zihuatanejo: In 1910, the situation that existed in Mexico was not very different from what existed in the colonial era a hundred years before: A small group controlled industry and trade while most lived in poverty; there were no free elections, and common citizens did not participate in the political life of the country. The difference was made in 1910 a small middle class that was willing to fight and command a rebellion, leading to a new constitution in 1917.

Thursday, November 24, THANKSGIVING DAY IN THE USA (Celebrated in October in Canada): Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique to The United States and Canada. It is not celebrated in Mexico or in any other parts of the world. Since Ixtapa Zihuatanejo has many residents and tourists from The United States and Canada, local hotels and restaurants prepare turkey and special programs for this northern holiday.  For Native Americans, this occasion has a different meaning. We invite you to read: The Story of Thanksgiving as Told by a Mexican.

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