9 Afro-Latino Maroons to Remember

TK Afro-Latino Maroons to Remember this Hispanic Heritage Month – and Beyond

This article was originally published on Sept. 30, 2015. 

Let's celebrate the resistance of Afro-Latino maroons, those Africans who were enslaved across Latin America and the Caribbean who self-liberated and founded palenques, societies, across the land.

PLUS: 12 Events Celebrating Afro-Latinos

Whether they established short-lived communities for maroons, also called cimarrónes or quilombos, or states with thousands of members, the ancestors of today’s Afro-Latinos are the ultimate chingones and chingonas, and their strength, resistance and humanity are worth remembering and commemorating.

Here are just nine of the thousands of cimarrónes we are honoring. 

1. Gaspar Yanga: During early Spanish colonial rule in Mexico, Gaspar Yanga led a maroon colony in Veracruz, Mexico. Under his leadership, the group resisted a Spanish attack in 1609 and formed a self-ruling settlement called San Lorenzo de los Negros, which was recognized by the colonial government in 1618. Today, a statue of the maroon leader stands in Yanga, a town named after him in Veracruz. He is considered a "national hero of Mexico."

2. Miguel: In sixteenth-century Venezuela, Miguel organized a group of 80 enslaved Africans to revolt against their slave-holders, creating their own maroon group populated by both Africans and Indigenous communities. Miguel, founding a capital and putting together an army, led the palenque until his death. With help from a neighboring city, Spanish colonizers killed Miguel and destroyed his settlement.

3. Marcos Xiorro: Slave rebellions occurred on the island of Puerto Rico as early as 1527, with maroons escaping into the mountains and establishing societies with the surviving Taínos. By 1873, enslaved Africans had orchestrated more than 20 revolts. However, one of the most popular, and today a Puerto Rican folklore, is Marcos Xiorro, who led a rebellion in 1821.

4. Ganga Zumba: In Brazil, Ganga Zumba was the first maroon, there known as quilombo or mocambo, leader. He was recognized as king of Quilombo dos Palmares, one of many settlements he and his "royal" family built. His own site had a palace, where he lived, and 1,500 houses.

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