Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Afro-Peruvian Slave Revolt

  Hacienda de San Jose 
Hacienda San José
When I attempted to visit this old slave plantation, I was turned away at the door because it was shut down due to damages from the 2007 earth quake. 

Peruvian black folks make up 5% to 10% of the population, which is estimated at 2 million. Although I encountered black communities in Lima, the nation's capital, large numbers of black folks can be found in Southern Peru and Northern Peru. 

The first Africans arrived as slaves, sailors, and soldier among the conquistadors. In fact, they were among the troops that invaded and overthrew the Incas in 1533. By 1635, the Perú had a black majority, which started to decline by 1700 due to interracial relationships and marriages.

In the 1540s slave revolts began to occur, which were immediately put down. Slaves who escaped were called cimarones, and they built fortresses called palenques to defend themselves against slave hunters. One of the successful slave revolts occurred on a slave plantation in Southern Peru called Hacienda (Slave Plantation) San Jose.   

Hacienda San José, a sugar plantation, was built in 1868 in El Carmen, Perú and lasted until a rebellion of more than 300 African slaves took place in 1879 . The plantation owner was hacked down like sugar cane by machete wielding slave rebels on the principal stair entrance. Descendants of these slaves still populate the area known as the District of El Carmen where my goddaughter lives and where I visit every chance I get.

Today, this plantation (or hacienda) has been converted into a tourist attraction where people spend the night. Guided tours are in Spanish packed with 300 years’ black history. They serve an extraordinary Sunday lunch buffet featuring full range comida criolla (Peruvian soul food), and put on  Afro-Peruvian music and dance performances.

I stopped by the Hacienda in November 2010 and in November 2011, and each time, was told by the security officer that it will open next year. It was closed as a result of an 8.0 earthquake that took place in the summer of 2007.

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