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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Assessment for Blacks (Afro-Peruvians) in Peru

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Peru Facts
Area:    1,285,220 sq. km.
Capital:    Lima
Total Population:    23,850,000 (source: various, 1995, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

Afro-Peruvians have few of the risk factors for rebellion. They are not highly organized and do not have a cohesive identity. They do, however, face societal discrimination and are geographically concentrated in Peru's coastal regions. However, they do not have a history of violent political action. Nor have Afro-Peruvians been visible in leftist militant organizations in Peru.

Protest is a more likely outcome, given the continued discrimination faced by Afro-Peruvians. However, given their low levels of political organization and mobilization, protests are not likely to be large or sustained.


Analytic Summary

Peru's black population is recognized as a distinct population in the country and is primarily concentrated in the coastal region between Lima and Ica (GROUPCON = 3). Afro-Peruvians and indigenous people are the poorest sectors of Peruvian society. Estimates of the Afro-Peruvian population vary widely, ranging from 3 to more than 10 percent. Afro-Peruvians are racially distinct from other Peruvians (RACE = 2); however, they are linguistically, culturally and religiously similar (LANG = 0; CUSTOM = 0; BELIEF = 0).

In 1532, when Spanish conquistadors arrived to seize Peru from the Incan people, African slaves accompanied them. The country's black population increased when Africans from the Bantu regions of Africa were captured and forcibly brought to Peru by the Spanish. The Afro-Peruvian population of the coast has a vibrant tradition of music and customs, stemming from its African roots; Afro-Peruvian music and festivals are very popular in the larger society, although Peruvian literature often portrays blacks as "evil" or "lacking morals." Afro-Peruvians are intermarrying at high rates with members of other ethnic or racial groups (RACE = 2). In one of the more positive pieces of legislation passed in the Congress, the 1969 Agrarian Reform Bill reorganized all land into cooperatives, which required blacks and non-blacks to participate in state-regulated agricultural cooperatives. This program increased integration into society.

However, while the constitution of Peru does not permit discrimination based upon race or ethnicity, social discrimination persists (ECDIS06 = 3; POLDIS06 = 3). Social advancement in Peru is based partially upon the "whiteness" of one's skin. Afro-Peruvians' participation in the government is not proportionate to their numbers. Afro-Peruvian representation has actually decreased, from 3 members in the Peruvian legislature in 2005 to only one in 2006 (LEGISREP06 = 1). It is widely believed that people of African decent are unofficially excluded from the higher ranks of both the air force and the navy. There is also discrimination by police: people of African decent are often detained for suspected crimes just because of their skin color, and there is a pattern of neglect when it comes to police acting on complaints of crimes against Afro-Peruvians. With regard to the economy, Afro-Peruvians generally are relegated to lower paying service jobs, and rarely hold positions of leadership within the business community.

There are several groups that represent Afro-Peruvians, including the Asociacion Negra de Defensa y Promocion de los Derecho Humanos, the Francisco Congo Black movement, Association of Black Peruvian Youth, Black Woman Defense Association, the Center for the Development of Peruvian Black Women, and the National Afro-Peruvian Research Institute (GOJPA03 = 2). While information on these groups is scant, they have been active in the past few years, pursuing through conventional tactics greater economic opportunities and political rights for black Peruvians (POLGR06 = 1; ECGR06 = 1).

Afro-Peruvians have not engaged in rebellion or protest in recent years (REB04-06 = 0; PROT04-06 = 0). Nor have they been subject to government repression or intercommunal conflict.



Benavides, Martin, Maximo Torero and Nestor Valdivia. 2006. Pobreza, discriminacion social, e identidad: el caso de la poblacion Afro-descendiente en el Peru. The World Bank., accessed 8/6/2009.

Lexis-Nexis. Various news reports. 1990-2006.

Minority Rights Group. 1995. No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today. London: Minority Rights Publications

Sanchez, Margarita, and Michael J. Franklin. 1996. "Communities of African Ancestry in Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela." Background Papers. Forum on Poverty Alleviation for Minority Communities. Washington, D.C: Inter-American Development Bank.

U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Peru. 1999-2006.


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Information current as of December 31, 2006