Black People of Venezuela

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My first encounter with them was on my second day in the country. I was in a bus heading 6 hours from Caracas to a city called Barquisimeto in a journey that started at 8:00 o’clock in the morning.

Inside the bus it was so cold one had to put on a sweater or shiver to death. Initially I had trouble finding my way to the seat by looking at the cluttered, faded out ticket until one passenger assisted me by pointing at where it was written.

In the television in front, an English movie muted, with Spanish subtitle was on the loop, repeating about three times before I reached my final destination.

After we exited the city, we were welcome by a thick jungle. The bus would disappear only to climb few miles later exposing the green fields rolling to the horizons, covered with trees hugged together paving the way for the bus to pass.
After a few kilometers apart, the bus would pass a village, stranded in the middle of nowhere. Here the houses were normal, nothing spectacular, resembling their surrounding with different words displayed for shops and garages. Everything is so serene.

When we were half way the trip, we stopped at a little town, to stretch our legs and put something in the stomach. It was a stopover with shops lined in one line, with a big statue of a black woman carrying a baby.

A few dogs laid around the area, with one close to where I was sitting. As I was sitting on the edge of a bench sipping coca cola in can, it started to drizzle sending the dust up in the air. A motorcycle with two youngsters pulled in, blasting merengue music.

When I was lost in thoughts, a car pulled in from a driveway. And then I saw them. Darker that I am; charcoal skin glistening even in the rainy day.

A middle-aged woman got out the car followed by a girl who resembled her daughter and later a man who seemed to be the husband.The two ladies had coarse hair, bulging hips, protruding derriere; a spectacle to see.
Venezuela has many black people that came during the slave trade period. While others were destined to reach the Caribbean, North America and others to the samba-land of Brazil, others reached Venezuela.

There are two names used to refer to black people: Morenos and Negros. Morenos are black people with café con leche skin tone, or mestizo while Negros are simply black people who are darker.

Here in Venezuela, Africans were brought to plough the big plantations of cocoa and sugar cane owned by the Spaniards in the coastal areas, where the largest population of black people reside today in places like Moron and Bar lo Vento.
In fact, the Venezuelan population is so mixed that many people have brown skin tone. The current generation has a bit of Spanish blood, a tinge of indigenous roots and a touch of African ancestry. It is also very common to have Italian and Portuguese roots.

When I asked a friend whether it is easy to find a pure breed, he told me that it is almost impossible after 200 years of Spanish presence and slavery trade.

Black people have a very strong influence in the Venezuelan culture. They have brought many traditions that are practiced in this land, for example a dance famously known as tambore.

It is a dance accompanied by drums with men dancing around a lady, simulating what happens between a cock and hen before mating. It is a dance of competition between men for a beautiful woman.
But Africans had even a stronger influence back in the past. There is a story of man Pedro Camejo famously known as Negro Primero, who appears on one of the notes of Venezuelan money with a very interesting story.

He was a Venezuelan soldier who reached the ranks of lieutenant. He fought during the war of independence, being the only man of color in the army of Simon Bolívar. He was so brave that when he was about die he went to his general and say with an unfailing voice, “My general, I come to tell you goodbye, because I am dead,”
When you travel to the neighboring Guyana, Panama, Colombia, Brazil and other countries in Latin America, you will be amazed to see the large population of black people.

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