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Uruguay Declares July Black Heritage Month

  • Devotees of the Afro-Brazilian goddess Lemanja perform a ritual in Montevideo

    Devotees of the Afro-Brazilian goddess Lemanja perform a ritual in Montevideo | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 June 2016

The South American country population is 88 percent of European descent and 4 percent Black, according to World Factbook figures. 

The coming month of July will be declared a Black Heritage Month in Uruguay, which would be held every year, according to government officials Sunday. 

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In an official statement, the municipality of the city of Montevideo expressed its wish to remember the history of the Black community in the country. Previously, the city had turned a deposit which used to house 70,000 slaves during colonial times into a museum.

The center, which operated in 1787, will hold a memorial site built by the Black community and will also be used as a cultural center for the city.

The Ministry of Social Development of Uruguay is leading the initiative and organizing events around the celebration. The work will also be coordinated with organizations from Afro-Uruguayan civil society and the Working Group on Ethnic-Racial Policy.

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July was selected as Black Heritage Month since it also holds two other important events: The International Nelson Mandela Day and the historical commemoration of the International Day of Afro-Latin American, Caribbean and Diaspora Women.

This will be the first nationwide edition of the festivities, which will also address issues surrounding education, politics, art, culture, economics and other issues.

The vast majority of Uruguayans, 88 percent, are descendents of Europe, mainly from Spain and Italy. Close to 4 percent are Black, according to the CIA's World Factbook, although some put the figure as high as 10 percent. More than 3 million people live in the country.

In 2008, poverty levels in the white population reached 19.4 percent, while Black population have a 43.1 percent. An estimated 3.4 million people live in the country.

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