By: Candelaria Donaji Méndez Tello, a founding member of México Negro A.C.(Translated by Patricia Ann Talley)
Tthe 18th Meeting of Black People of Mexico (Encuentro de Los Pueblos Negroes) was held on November 17 and 18, 2017, by Mexico Negro Civic Association. Normally this event is held in the state of Guerrero, but this was the first time it was held in the state of Veracruz, in the municipality of Mata Clara.
I arrived in Mata Clara, Veracruz after more than an 11 hour trip by bus from Zihuatanejo.
Various delegates from the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Mexico City, the state of Mexico, and Coahuila attended the event, as well as academics and the general public from Cuba, Peru, the United States, Nigeria, and Canada.
The conference is hosted annually by Mexico Negro Civic Association.
The conferences were about Africans and Afro-descendants in Mexico, religion in the Black communities of Mexico, the Black population in the sugar plantations of Veracruz. The event included a tour of the community of Mata Clara to view and interact with the Afro-Mexican population.
Cultural activities included the “Dance of the Devils” that is a unique celebration in Afro-Mexican communities. The dance of the “artesa” of Cuajinicuilapa, Guererro was also included.
In his speech during the opening ceremony Sergio Peñaloza Perez, President of Mexico, Negro, Civic Association, thanked the teacher Rosa Maria Hernandez Fitta and the logistics committee of the host community for the effort and work done, as well as the local municipal authority and authorities such as the Commission of Indigenous Development, National Institute of Anthropology and History, National Commission of Human Rights, Secretary of Culture, General Directorate of Popular Cultures, and the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination. And, he acknowledged the Afro-Mexican hero, Yanga.
Sergio Peñaloza Perez, President of Mexico, Negro, Civic Association, thanked everyone for coordinating the event and recognized Yanga, a famous Mexican hero.
I was proud to stand next to the statue of Yanga, an Afro-Mexican hero and leader of freedom in Mexico.
We are fighting for constitutional recognition of Afro-Mexicans in 2017. Our message is for decision-makers in Congress and government institutions: It is time to pay that historic debt to Afro-Mexicans and recognize us!
The UN has declared a decade of tribute to African descendants around the world and Mexico has a black population. Currently, there are more than 20 organizations that struggle in this process, starting with a local movement and now becoming a national movement.
In Afro-Mexican communities there is marginalization. It is the time for Mexico to recognize us; we have the right to equality! Never again a Mexico without us Afro-Mexicans!