Afro-Bolivians - History and Cultural Relations

The history of Blacks in Bolivia dates from colonial-era Peru, when Africans were imported as slaves to labor in the silver mines of the Peruvian viceroyalty. By the turn of the seventeenth century hundreds of thousands of Africans had been imported into Spanish America (Bowser 1974, 37), and by 1611 some 6,000 Black and Mulato slaves worked the upper Peruvian mines of Potosí (Klein 1986, 32). Africans were also imported as slave labor to work coca-leaf plantations in the semitropical provinces of Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas (M. Léons 1978). Emancipation was legislated in Bolivia's constitution of 19 December 1827; political debates delayed its enforcement until 1851.

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