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Afro-Hondurans Honduras
Total population
185,300 (2%)
Regions with significant populations
Creole people: Bay Islands and some Caribbean coastal Honduran cities like Puerto Cortes, Tela and La Ceiba;
Garifuna people: Roatan Island, Trujillo, Honduras
Spanish, Garifuna, English
Protestantism, Roman Catholicism,
Related ethnic groups
Afro-Latin Americans, Caribs

Afro-Hondurans or Black Hondurans, are Hondurans of African descent. They descended from Africans, who were enslaved and identified as Garifunas and Creole peoples. The Creole people were originally from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, while the Garifuna people came from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. They arrived in Honduras between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to work on the export of bananas, and on construction work.


Afro-Honduran are Hondurans of African descent. They are estimated to be 3% population of the country. Those brought during colonial times mixed with Indians and Spanish, the Garifuna, and the Bay Island Creoles.

According to the CIA, the ethnic group makeup in Honduras are 90% mestizo, 7% Amerindian, 2% black, and 1% white.


Banner at Carnival de La Ceiba

One of the first African slaves who arrived in Honduras, Juan Bardales, participated in the Spanish conquest of the province, especially in Trujillo. Shortly thereafter, Berdales was awarded with his freedom. In Honduras, slaves played an important role in the mining industry. Many of them came from Africa, from places like Angola or Senegambia, while others came from the Caribbean. In 1542, 165 slaves came via Portugal and 150 from Santo Domingo.[1] In Honduras, were imported slaves Mandinka kangkurao of the Gambia River in Senegambia.[2]

By the mid-sixteenth century, between 1000 and 1500 enslaved blacks worked in the gold washings of Olancho, slaves who possibly hailed from Africa. In Honduras, for 1590, arrived in Olancho and at Rio Guayape three hundred Africans for work in mining. A crew of Angolas worked in the mines and businesses in San Miguel. Although many mulattoes and browns also worked in Tegucigalpa for the same dates. Between 1750 and 1779, a larger group of African slaves, Carabali and mondongos (a Kongo tribe) people, were taken to Honduras to build the military fort San Fernando de Omoa, the most important in the region.[1]

In 1796, approximately 300 "French black" from the French colony of Saint Domingue came to Trujillo, in the context of the conflict that gave rise to the independence of Haiti. In 1797, the British exported between 2,000 and 4,000 Black Caribs - mixture of Carib Indians and African Blacks - to the island o Roatán in Honduras, because they rebelled against them on the island St. Vincent. After this, these Garifuna, as called themselves, migrated to Trujillo and from there, scattered along the coasts of all the Central American mainland until Costa Rica (without reaching this place), especially by the persecutions to which they were subjected by the Spanish authorities. Some of them were involved in the civil wars of the time.[2]

In the late eighteenth century records tell of significant percentages of blacks and mulattoes in Tegucigalpa. But at the end of the colonial period, slaves were already mainly mulattoes. Between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century, the British introduced black slaves from Jamaica, Cayman Island and Belize in Honduras.[3]

According to Luis Pedro Taracena, in these years, Tegucigalpa was populated by 80% mulattoes and this percentage was increasing over time, at least until 1815 (when they were 86% of the population). During the twentieth century, mulattoes and browns were progressively neutralized under the category of "Ladino". According to historian Marbin Barahona, racial mixture enters blacks with whites and Amerindians occurred since the 1520s, due to the decline of the indigenous population, the Spanish immigration scanty and meager arrival of African slaves. The recovery of the hegemony of silver and indigo, the prohibition of non-indigenous groups live in Indian villages and the population growth recorded in the same century, miscegenation, primarily among Amerindian and Spanish, not only increased significantly at this time but concentrated in certain regions, especially in the current Francisco Morazán Department, and Chaluteca and Comayagua departments.

These departments attracted all kinds of mixed race (mestizo, mulatto, pardo, Ladino, etc.), unlike the indigenous concentration departments west. In 1775, lived in San Fernando de Omoa between 300 and 400 Africans and about 75 white families. They remained there until the early nineteenth century. So, in the late eighteenth century, the Spanish origin population would have been a minority compared to the racially mixed populations ("Ladino").

The Spanish Crown considered to Ladinos as those subjects of the Crown, originally non-Hispanics, and they learned the official languages of the empire or Vulgar Latin. In the Americas the Ladinos were often identified as those groups nonwhites who were Amerindian or Spanish - speaking (and most people who were not white or Amerindians in the Americas at the time were mestizos and Afro descendants), including possibilities such as "black ladino," "mulatto Ladin", etc. According to Barahona, Ladinos were the majority of the population in 1800 (60% of the population).

According to Linda Newton, if we use the census of 1804, the Indians were almost 50% of the population, making Ladinos in a group of between 40% and 45% of the population.

Because these days, most African - Hondurans were mulatto, sambo and browns. Although in the seventeenth century, had five categories in the census of Spanish America, "white", "Indians", "mestizos", "black" and "mulatto", already in the eighteenth century, the last three categories alone in a bind: "Ladino". During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Spanish authorities considered Honduran even entire regions populated mostly as mulatto, sambo or brown. Such is the case of places like Olancho, Yoro, Colon and Atlántida, regions that eventually could have remixed with whites, Amerindians and mestizos.

It was in the early nineteenth century when slavery was abolished in Honduras and after 1820 the Afro-Hondurans were simply considered citizens and obtained the rights of any citizen to be excluded from the category of "free blacks" perhaps because the General Francisco Ferrera, Honduran politician who was part of the government of Honduras at the time, had ancestors mulattoes. Anyway, he decreed the expulsion of the country's Garifuna (but ultimately this is not carried out).[1]

The Honduran historian, Antonio Canelas Diaz says that by the year 1870, was organized in the city of La Ceiba - the point where, emerged on a large scale banana production in Honduras - a company called "New Orleans and Bay Island Company" whose executives, imported the first black Creoles hired by fruit, since they were a labor" [...] more qualified than the Honduran "in banana cultivation, and who had previously worked in their respective nations that sector. Other black anglophone contingents arrived in Honduras with the arrival of black workers from Jamaica and other English-speaking islands arrived to work for the banana transnationals.[3]

In 1931, the Alfonso Guillen Zelaya Honduran intellectual, raised the huge black presence on the north coast and the fear that if increased which what he called the "black import" Honduras ended up being a country of mulatto, however, already then, the country was mostly mestizo and indigenous population had been growing over the years.[1]


The African Cultural legacy is evident in some places of Honduras. In Trujillo held certain dance parties, whose dancers carry specific masks. Both the dance and the masks are of Mandinka kangkurao origin.[2] In addition to the Afro-Hondurans that descended of slaves imported by the Spanish, there others two Afro communities in Honduras, also present en Nicaragua y Guatemala: Creoles and Garifuna.


British blacks or Creoles arrived with the introduction of African slaves to Jamaica, Cayman and Belize by the British during the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century, and by the immigration of black workers from Jamaica, Cayman island, Trinidad and Tobago and other English-speaking islands, arrived in the early twentieth century to work in transnational banana companies, workers in the construction of railways, dockworkers and in some cases "scabs", are concentrated mainly in the Bay Islands, especially the Roatan Island and Guanaja and some Caribbean coastal Honduran cities like Puerto Cortes, Tela and La Ceiba.[3]

In the 2000s, some Creoles have migrated to the major cities of Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and other urban centers in the interior. Like the Garifuna, many work as sailors and emigrated to the United States or Grand Cayman Island with which there are strong trade and cultural relations. Over time, blacks brought by the British were learning the customs and the English language, which managed to keep up today. Like white citizens, long blacks were not considered as Hondurans. Although the Bay Islands were eventually recognized as Honduran territory by the British in 1861, by the Treaty "Wike-Cross", in 1904, people still continued to believe that these lands were English possessions.[3]

Even in the 1930s, during the dictatorship of Gen. Tiburcio Carias (1933-1949), many islanders be Honduran nationals refused, and still clinging to their English traditions, practicing the Protestant religion and speaking only English. As shown, this process represents the first contingent of blacks settled in British Honduras, which was a result of the transfer of slaves from the British to the Bay Islands and some places of the Honduran coast between the late eighteenth and mid-century.[3]

Over time, the black English, originally came with the illusion of wealth and then return to their countries, they fell in Honduras and evidently were acquiring some Honduran customs, but in essence, they brought many manifestations of their lands, as religion, music, traditions and language in many cases, are still preserved and that makes therefore constitute a distinct ethnic group from the rest of the Honduran population, however, naturally feel today Hondurans and, in fact, a major instances by which have been "integrating" the Honduran has been through sport. Indeed, many black British have been in recent decades some major national athletes, especially in football clubs and the national team of Honduras, but also have excelled in other sports such as athletics, baseball and basketball. Finally, many black British, before the decline of the banana industry and the emergence of other productive sectors, were emigrating from the 1950s to the United States and enrolled as marine commercial fishing fleets throughout the Caribbean. Currently, it is estimated that the number of black English or Creole is around 32,000 people.[3]


In 1797, the British exported between 2,000 and 4,000 Black Caribs - mixture of Carib Indians and Black Africans - to the island of Roatán in Honduras, because they rebelled against them on the island St. Vincent. While the British ships that carried to Black Caribes to the island addressed her, the Spanish captured one of the British ships, bringing it to Trujillo, Honduras where the Garifunas were released. In addition, the Spanish captured others 1,700 Garifunas on the island of Roatan and they taken him to Trujillo where they lacked manpower, the Garifuna people were regarded as skillful for crops, so they went to work and prospered enough in Trujillo, some of these were recruited by the Spanish army where they served with distinction. [4]

Many Garifunas of Trujillo, especially due to the persecutions to which they were subjected by the Spanish authorities, emigrated and be scattered were them along the coasts of all the Central American mainland until Costa Rica (without reaching this place),[2] More later, because to great resentment against the Spanish, others many Garifuna fled to the coast of Belize where already lived other Garifunas.[4] It is this migration that is celebrated annually on November 19 as Garifuna Settlement Day, and is the largest celebration of this community. Some of them were involved in the civil wars of the time.

During the twentieth century, some Garifuna have worked on American and British boats during World War II and traveled by the world. As a result of these trips, there are now Garifuna small communities in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City who send monthly remittances to Honduras worth $360,000.

The Garifuna culture is very strong, with great emphasis on music, dance and history. They have their own religion, the Dugu, consisting of a mixture of Catholicism and African and Caribbean beliefs.

Today the Garifuna in Honduras struggling not to be deprived of their lands on the coast for tourism enterprises and try to keep their customs and culture at all costs. Garifuna music, Punta (tip), is a very rhythmic music, accompanied by fast-paced sensual dance with a lot of hip movement. This music has been released recently by bands mostly Hondurans, including the most famous: Kazabe, Garifuna Kids, Banda Blanca, Silver Star and los Roland. Especially the song Sopa de Caracol, of Kazabe has popularized this music internationally. Is difficult to determine the exact number of English-speaking black Garifunas because in the last decades the ethnic category has not been considered in national population censuses.[5] The Garifunas have formed 47 communities in the departments of Cortes, Atlantis, Bay Islands, Colon and Gracias a Dios.[4] On April 12 of each year marks the day of Garifuna ethnic recalling his arrival in Honduras.[6]

Naming controversy

In March 2014, members of the Garifuna community made a formal complaint to the public prosecutor's office concerning the use of the term Afro when relating to members of the Garifuna community by the state of Honduras, claiming the term “afrohondureño” (Afro-Honduran in English) is incorrect because black people in Honduras were born there and are citizens of the country as much as members of other races. They claim such a term is being used to end the ethnic identity of the 46 communities which live along the Atlantic north coast.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Del olvido a la memoria (in Spanish: From oblivion to memory)
  2. ^ a b c d Bound To Africa — The Mandinka Legacy In The New World
  3. ^ a b c d e f LOS NEGROS INGLESES, O CREOLES DE HONDURAS: ETNOHISTORIA, RACISMO, NACIONALISMO Y CONSTRUCCIÓN DE IMAGINARIOS NACIONALES EXCLUYENTES EN HONDURAS (in Spanish: BLACKS English, or Creoles OF HONDURAS: ETHNOHISTORY, racism, nationalism and exclusionary national IMAGINARY CONSTRUCTION IN HONDURAS). Posted by Dr. Jorge Alberto Amaya. Retrieved January 30, 2013, to 14:20 pm.
  4. ^ a b c Secretaría de Estado en los despachos de pueblos indígenas y afrohondureños. Gobierno de la República de Honduras: CARACTERIZACION CULTURAL DEL PUEBLO GARIFUNA Archived March 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (in spanish: Secretary of State in the Office of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran. Government of the Republic of Honduras: cultural characterization of the Garifuna people)
  5. ^ Eripere: Garífunas Archived 2013-02-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved January 30, 2012, to 15:35pm
  6. ^ Garífunas celebran hoy su llegada a Honduras (in Spanish: Garifunas celebrate today his arrival in Honduras). Posted by Lisseth García
  7. ^ Honduras: Garífunas se quejan contra el Estado por llamarlos “afro” Archived March 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine