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: 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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