A Love Letter to My Trini-Vene Tribe… #BlackHistoryIsGlobal

Today’s La Vida En Black History Month moment comes in the form of a love letter.  A love letter written through history, by our ancestors, by our Great Grandmothers and Great Grandfathers…today’s Post is dedicated to mi famila.

IMG_1813Born in the “in between” time my Mummy, Josefa Machado was a bright daughter in the Luces family.  She was an enterprising young woman, working at the US Naval Base in Chaguaramas during the 2nd world war as a nurses’ assistant.  The Trinidadian peninsula was leased to the United States in 1940 for the construction of a naval base under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement bringing over 30,000 soldiers to the Island nation from the US, Canada, and Great Britain.  It boosted the economy and brought a new generation of children into the Trinidadian culture. And Josefa had 5 beautiful boys in Trinidad before the war was done.
IMG_1810My Dad, Pedro Machado was an intelligent, handsome young man with an adventurous spirit and a gypsy’s soul because he loved to travel.  He had a way with ladies because of his extraordinary relationship with his sister, Madge and Britta. He wasn’t really joined the merchant marines and came to the United States in the 40’s on a ship he boarded in Venezuela called the Gran Colombia.

After WWII they both headed to The Shell Oil Compound in Venezuela and met, fell in love and had seven more children.   I am a proud product of this profoundly beautiful Trini- Vene Tribe.

I am because of them.  We all are because of them. They moved from Venezuela to Miami for an “opportunity” for their children. “Get an education” Daddy used to say, “and dont talk about people, talk about ideas.”  Pedro was fruitful and had 5 daughters and 6 sons with beautiful intelligent women from all over the world. In his lifetime he worked on futuristic projects at IBM, Control Data Systems in the Silicon Valley of the late 60’s and at Eastern Airlines in Miami, Florida.  Unfortunately this force of nature that was my father died “with his boots on” almost 40 years ago. But he lives in us all and is vibrantly alive in all the work we do.

From Josefa we received our entrepreneurial spirit.   Her gift was the way she hustled on an international scale. In Venezuela she ran a salon in our house and when we moved to Miami she continued her styling.    Buying the latest fashions in Miami and taking trunk shows to her clients in Venezuela and Trinidad, my mother was a stylist extraordinaire! “Do good and good will always follow you” was her catch phrase to us all as chastisement,  and as advise. There was never any question that she and God were and more than likely still are the very best of friends, that woman was the closest person to God we have ever known.

My siblings are all extraordinary people, we are an enterprising loving tribe, born of incredibly resilient, resourceful people.  We are an attorney, a businesswoman, a chef, a musician, entrepreneur, artisan, engineer, an educator, filmmaker and in the end really “good people.”  Our children may not have the riches of Rothschilds or the Rockefellers  but they do inherit a history and a legacy of a familial community rich with good music, great food and wonderful stories.

For these and other great stories of The African diaspora in the Americas check for La Vida En Black a documentary series from MimiTVA… This is Episode 1 Trini-Vene Tribe…
Happy Valentines Day Machados and Luces I love you.


La Vida En Black; El Negro Primero #BlackHistoryIsGlobal

Afro-Venezuelans were a vital part of the struggle for independence.  One of Simon Bolívar’s most famous lieutenants, Pedro imgresCamejo, is legendary in Venezuela’s history as “El Negro Primero,” who was always the first to ride into battle.

In the final battle of Carabobo, Camejo was mortally wounded but survived long enough to utter one infamous phrase: “General, vengo decirle, adiós, porque estoy muerto” (General, I have come to say goodbye, because I am dead).


A statue of El Negro Primero proudly stands in the Plaza Carabobo in Caracas—the only such statue commemorating a Black man in all of Venezuela. Curiously, he is always depicted wearing a turban, the same iconography used for the mythical Negro Felipe.

For More Information about La Vida En Black, the documentary FIlm Series go to

www. TVAMediaPro.com

Look for the next post from #BlackHistoryIsGlobal and MimiTVA…

El Judio Maravilloso and MimiTVA…

I first met Larry Harlow as a little girl – when my dad took me to a Fania All-Stars Concert in Miami, maybe 1973-74. My Dad knew Celia Cruz from a time he had spent in Cuba when she first became the voice of Sonora Matencera plus he loved El Judio Maravilloso- Larry Harlow. So Daddy took me backstage…

I was a little black Venezuelan girl in the United States… I had never seen a star that looked like me up close like that, I was mesmerized by Celia – her long Dashiki dress – her fabulous shoes and her absolute pride in her African-ness. And the cultural musical wonder that we’re the Fania All Stars was magic to me. Harlow’s clave led fingers were the perfect accompaniment to Celia’s blessed vocals. All roads for Fania began musically in Africa. The ancestors, deities and spirits used the sounds to call us and I was hooked right then and there.

Celia Cruz

As an adult I became a television producer at BET on Jazz in the 1990s. So some 30 years later I’m at Jazzmatazz in the Ronald Reagan Building in DC getting all of these Jazz artists to do some promos for the Channel for me.

I look at my artist list and notice Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends and I’m perplexed. You see, I only remember the “Judio Maravilloso” moniker from my childhood so I had no idea who Larry Harlow was, so I go into the ballroom where they are setting up to play.

I recognize some of the band members from the Fania All stars and get excited. I wonder to myself if the Judio Maravilloso is playing with the Latin Legends. I tell the one older Gentleman I’m from BET on Jazz the only cable network dedicated to Jazz. I ask for the tour manager and Mr Harlow says that’s me. I then ask him who Larry Harlow is and if by chance the “Judio Maravilloso” was playing with this band because of all the Fania Alumni I recognize in the band.

At this point Larry chuckles and says “I’m all that my dear, El Judio Maravilloso, tour manager and Larry Harlow all rolled into one.” Surprised, I covered my mouth and giggled gleefully because working in Jazz ignited such wonderful memories for me. This music, these musicians were the soundtrack to my childhood.

The Fania AllStars

From that day – I began to record, interview and document the best Latin musicians on this planet. And El Judio Maravilloso opened the door.
Larry Harlow never refused me entrance to his home, access to his vast library of musical memories… He never held back the stories he told whether the camera was rolling or not…

Magnificent tales were told in each of his solos… his legacy is sewn into the arrangements and improvisation of the music he and all of his extraordinary friends created.
Larry loved this music ceaselessly.
I pray you a journey en clave Maestro…
Rest in Power Judio Maravilloso.
“Bendición y Ache”

My Black History is Global

A poem by Mimi Machado-Luces

My Black History is Global

I am a proud Afro Latina

with ancestors hailing from the most flavorful places on the planet, Trinidad, Venezuela, India and Africa…

My Black History is Global,

I have a soundtrack that is both western and worldly, an aficionado of Jazz y Son, Hip Hop and Timba, Reggae, Calypso, Soca, Samba, Soul, Salsa y Reggaeton!

My Black history is global,

I am a bilingual sibling to 14 amazing humans,

I am the award winning daughter of a scientist and a chef,

I am the wife of a journalist who happens to be a traditional African Priest

and then there’s this of which I take the most pride…

I am a mother of two artists that know their BLACK HISTORY IS GLOBAL TOO…

María Remedios Del Valle

María Remedios del Valle (ca. 1768–1847) was an army nurse and counter-intelligence spy who helped Argentine soldiers escape captivity from the Spanish Army.

Remedios de Valle was also known as the “Madre de la Patria” (Mother of the Homeland) because of her powerful influence and consummate bravery. She was shot in battle, captured, imprisoned, tortured, then successfully escaped back home, only to find her entire family was killed during the war. 

María Remedios del Valle (cropped).jpg

After the conflict, Maria went back to Buenos Aires and became homeless, eventually having to turn to begging in the very land she fought to free from the Spanish.

One fateful day, Del Valle was discovered by one of the generals under whom she had fought. That chance encounter was a life-saver — Maria finally began receiving a pension that was paid over the last decade of her life. And today, as the movement for recognition of the contributions of AfroDiasporic people has received significant attention, Mariá Remedios Del Valle is widely celebrated for her sacrifice as a soldier and healer in the fight for Argentina’s independence. In 2013, the National Day of Afro-Argentines and African Culture was observed on the 8th of November, the anniversary of her death.

María Remedios Del Valle was born in Buenos Aires. She was a parda, a name given to the descendants of enslaved Africans. Research found that testimony given in the Diario de Sesiones, a Congressional record in 1828 during her petition to receive a pension, states that she was “sixty or more years old,” calculating her birth year around 1768.

Del Valle, with her husband and two sons, joined the Army of the North which had been deployed to liberate Peru, and what is now Bolivia, from Spain. This was the first military expedition into the interior and the troop left Buenos Aires in June of 1810 under the command of Bernardo Joaquín de Anzoátegui, a captain of the Volante Artillery Battalion’s 6th Company.  Initially, del Valle was among the rabonas or camp followers, who were called on and recruited from the urban poor and peasantry to follow the troops and provide cooking and nursing services, carry arms and munitions, and gather important intelligence which could assist the military.

The army arrived to battle in December of 1810 at the Potosí post deep in the Argentine interior. Del Valle was a true warrior – fighting in the battles of “Huaqui in June of 1811 and the army’s subsequent retreat to Jujuy, where they remained until August of 1812. This fierce female soldier fought in the victories at Tucumán in September of 1812 and another win in Salta on the 20th of February in 1813. She continued to soldier through crushing losses at Vilcapugio in October of 1813 and another in Ayohuma just a month later in November. Thankfully Maria Remedios de Valle’s bravery and name was recorded so that her participation could eventually be rewarded with the battle pay she ended up receiving some decades later.

Maria’s intelligence and persistence became a secret weapon of her generals. Before the Battle of Tucumán, she sought permission from General Belgrano to tend the troops who had fallen on the front lines. Belgrano denied permission, on the grounds that women were not suited for duty at the front. Remedios del Valle went on with her plan anyway and was later promoted by Belgrano to the rank of captain in the army. 

Remedios del Valle was shot in the Battle of Ayohuma and was taken prisoner by the Spanish forces.  Despite her captivity, she was diligent in helping to free several prisoners. Maria was consequently sentenced to be flogged in public for nine consecutive days. She eventually escaped and returned to her army nursing wounded soldiers through the end of the conflict.

Not much is known of Remedios del Valle’s story after the war ended in 1818. Research of records indicate that in 1826 she applied for compensation for services rendered by her family during the War of Independence but the claim was denied. Sadly, Maria Remedios del Valle began begging for food at convents in the city.

General Juan José Viamonte found her destitute in the streets ofBuenos Aires. The General petitioned the legislature on her behalf to pay her rightful pension. And the generals supported her – like Anzoátegui, who was then a captain. General Eustaquio Díaz Vélez testified that Maria served as a guerilla fighter as well as a nurse to the wounded. Colonel Hipólito Videla, confirmed del Valle had been wounded, imprisoned and tortured at Ayohuma. The records show Del Valle had to be examined to confirm she had six scars proving she had been wounded by bullets and swords.

A political member of the legislature Tomás de Anchorena, presented a case in her defense and the government agreed to pay Remedios del Valle a salary for the rank of captain of the infantry. This was later elevated to compensation as a sergeant major of the cavalry. Del Valle was placed in inactive status, with full salary corresponding to her rank in 1830. She received a pension until her death in 1847.

A school child’s award winning rendition of Maria Remedios Del Valle.

A note dated 8 November 1847 in the military archives pension records indicates the legendary warrior had died. Maria Remedios history was denied until her story appeared in a history book in Argentina in the early 1930s, by Carlis Ibarguren. Then in 1944 Buenos Aires named a street in her honor.

Maria Remedios Del Valle was largely forgotten until the beginning of the 21st century, when activists and scholars began to tell the true stories of enslaved African people in Argentina. Mariá Remedios Del Valle is now widely recognized for her contributions and numerous publications have retold her story. Since 2013, November 8this celebrated in her honor, as the National Day of Afro-Argentines and African Culture.

Afro-Venezuelan Culture and Resistance: A Conversation with Ines Perez-Wilke

Venezuelanalysis interviews an activist and researcher who has written extensively on issues of black identity and struggle.


<img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/styles/full_content/public/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/ines_va.png?itok=NXwUeqZt” width=”1053″ height=”675″ alt=”Ines Perez-Wilke, university professor and activist. (Venezuelanalysis)” title=”Ines Perez-Wilke, university professor and activist. (Venezuelanalysis)” />

Ines Perez-Wilke, university professor and activist. (Venezuelanalysis)

By Cira Pascual Marquina – Venezuelanalysis.com

May 24th 2019 at 5.29pm


Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans





Ines Perez-Wilke is an activist and researcher who works on issues of black and mestizo cultural production – particularly improvisational performance – from a decolonial perspective. A professor at the Universidad Experimental de las Artes (UNEARTE) in Caracas, Perez-Wilke has written and published extensively. She is part of the Caracara Research Group (focused on decolonial esthetic mediations) and heads up the Semeruco Investigation Team (focused on improvisational performance). In this VA interview, published during Afro‐Venezuelan month (May 10 through June 10), we examine issues of racial identity and black cultural production in Venezuela.

VA: The Federal Wars in Venezuela that took place during the nineteenth century broke down the barriers of the old society and led to a great deal of racial integration. Since then racial issues have not been so decisive in Venezuelan society as they are, for example, in US society. However, that does not mean that there isn’t racism in Venezuela. Can you explain how and to what degree racism still organizes this society?

IPW: Venezuela’s social configuration is more flexible than that of most countries that were once colonies. That means that people of African descent are more integrated into society, and the laws in Venezuela aren’t necessarily racist, but the spaces blacks occupy here are still peripheral ones.

In that sense, Venezuelan society has always had a double standard. There is a discourse of inclusion – ever since the incorporation of campesinos and indigenous and black people in the Independence Wars and later the Federal Wars – but the opportunities that our society offers to these groups go hand in hand with a double standard.

The double standard is that you have to adapt yourself to the Creole cultural pattern on which the national imaginary has been based since the end of the nineteenth century… Creole culture constitutes a (false) path of social ascension. [The belief is that] the closer you get to that Creole ideal, the more you are going to move from the society’s margins to the center – without ever of course occupying the center, which is reserved for the power elites!

The double standard leads to a situation in which people of African descent are clearly situated in the spaces where there were formerly slave estates, like the Tuy valleys around Caracas or in Barlovento, where there were plantations producing coffee and cocoa.

If you see a map and think about class relations, you see that racism expresses itself, not in the discourse or the laws, but still, it turns out that indigenous and black populations are on the cities’ margins, in the peripheral spaces that were once encomiendas [Spanish colonial system that rewarded European settlers with the labor of particular groups of subjugated people] and plantations. There you see a clear expression of racism.

That double standard also affects the cultural sphere: our way of speaking, our way of treating the Afro, that zone between care and contempt, between the contemptuous, the comic and the judgmental. That is the complex space where the race experience has operated in Venezuela.

VA: Barlovento and Tuy are in the outskirts of Caracas, but Caracas itself has a black urban culture that is quite rich. Can we talk about black urban culture here, and urban racialized identities?

IPW: Here there is something very important and visible. It’s the relation, in urban contexts, between the black communities and the rest of the city. There are, on the one hand, ghettos and spaces of coexistence, where there are specific structures, languages, festivals, and calendars and, on the other hand, there is the city.

People from the black communities sometimes even say, “I’m going to the city” even if they are already in the city. They are transiting from the mainly black community to the formally denominated city. Their ways of being in each of the spaces is different. This points to a disputed terrain, which is still important, especially for people of African descent.

I can’t see it so clearly among indigenous people. Maybe it exists with some national communities like the Peruvian community or the Colombian community. (However, it happens more with the Afro-Colombian community than the Colombian community in general, which is more mixed into the city.)

So there is a tension that modifies the manner of being of a black person, in his or her community, versus how they move through the so-called city or how they move through the east of the city. The experience of moving and the way of seeing and being seen changes in these contexts. For example, they can be objects of a racist treatment in the city center.

These are things that one sees in relations that happen more or less in the same way in Havana, for example or in Brazil… The entrance of the black person, from the periphery, into the places that are considered “the city” is very clear and evident, fully identified. So here we see how the discourse of racism’s non-existence is belied in a physical sense.


<img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/styles/full_content/public/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/5cultura_afro_urbana.jpg?itok=Xw_pRSQO” width=”680″ height=”453″ alt=”Black urban cultural production in the barrio of Petare, Caracas. (Alba Ciudad)” title=”Black urban cultural production in the barrio of Petare, Caracas. (Alba Ciudad)” />

Black urban cultural production in the barrio of Petare, Caracas. (Alba Ciudad)

VA: There is a racist tendency in Venezuela’s political right-wing. How is it connected to the history and structures that you are talking about?

IPW: Of course, one of the things that President Chavez did is make the racial issue visible. The double standard here produces a situation that is very different from what people experience in English-speaking societies, where there is clearly a racialized policy and that explicit racism allows one to organize a struggle directly against it. It doesn’t mean that that system is better, but it does allow you to make the debate clearly and publicly.

The double standard here makes things more difficult because when a person, militant, or group takes up the theme of racism, it is often perceived as if it were merely a fantasy. It appears to be just an invention of that group. So one of the things that Chavez’s discourse did was to make [the existence of racism] explicit and visible. It made explicit the power relations that, in fact, exist regarding access to means and goods, to education, to territorial occupation for black people over the course of our long history. Chavez’s discourse allowed us to express, propose, and make visible the links between the question of class and the issue of race.

For that reason, the popular base that identifies with a racial minority sees itself reflected in the discourse. It makes that discourse its own, because formerly there had been a kind of interdiction or prohibition. The prohibition operated by means of the mechanism of the double constraint in which there is an oppression but it seems like a fantasy. So you can’t speak of it.

Once it’s made explicit, you can take part in that political discourse: you can make it your tool in the struggle.


<img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/styles/full_content/public/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/2orlando.png?itok=-x6gp3u4″ width=”1200″ height=”688″ alt=”Orlando Figuera was burned alive for being poor, black and Chavista. Altamira, Caracas, May 20, 2017. (Reuters)” title=”Orlando Figuera was burned alive for being poor, black and Chavista. Altamira, Caracas, May 20, 2017. (Reuters)” />

Orlando Figuera was burned alive for being poor, black and Chavista. Altamira, Caracas, May 20, 2017. (Reuters)

VA: You have claimed that cultural diversity, if it includes spiritual, political and social dimensions (and is not merely seen as folklore), can be a revolutionary force. Can you explain this to us?

IPW: I think that the main problem is that modernity and the capitalist world has been built on a categorical framework, on a way of seeing reality. It is a way that we have been discovering and denouncing that is really narrow, unfair and unequal.

When I say that cultural diversity offers revolutionary potential to us, I am basing that claim on the fact that in each of our cultures and ancestral peoples there is knowledge. There are proposals about how to see the world, nature, and life that offer alternatives to modernity and capitalism. They have a great deal of potential.

Yet to acquire a profound understanding of those epistemological proposals, you have to take them seriously. Quite often, however, the place that is given to cultural diversity is the place of folklore or of conserving traditions. There is a profound lack of knowledge about their functional contents: the knowledge, and technology that form part of a culture. (I refer to technology in the ample sense not only of tools for working with nature but also technology of thinking and of curing and other forms of knowledge that we can compare to scientific knowledge and have a great deal of transformative potential.)

So if you have a profound familiarity with African, Yoruba or indigenous traditions… well, there you find knowledge of biodiversity, of relations with animals, of productive technologies on many levels, links between the spiritual and the material, and radically different teaching forms. These are things that are revolutionary. They operate to directly open up, to denounce and demonstrate the limited nature of the strategies that modernity offers.

VA: You have claimed that there is a mobile and plural space of popular urban creation in Venezuela in which the contributions of the African diaspora dominate. Why is that the case?

IPW: In urban communities, which are made by exodus of waves of campesinos to the cities, black and popular immigration has been concentrated in certain sectors. There, they constitute a force, a political and social force that is clearly identifiable.

If we think of Caracas, the black population is concentrated in centers such as San Agustin del Sur, La Vega, Pinto Salinas, and Petare. What’s more, the people there organize themselves. They have generated mechanisms of organization, of self-recognition based on the African cultural patterns. The forms of struggle they deploy against the social decomposition that results from drug trafficking, violence, alienation, and endo-racism, have to do with seizing hold of their African roots and cultural narratives to generate activities and organizational structures based on, for example, festivals or foods to respond to urban forces that tend to dominate not only African cultural patterns but also other heritages. (The city is a very modern apparatus that efficiently erases any political force that is not useful to it.)

The practices of the African diaspora have a greater visibility and have more evident resistance than other cultural patterns, because they bring themselves together around a cultural pattern as a mechanism for confronting [the urban environment] and creating mechanisms of social dialogue.

The interpretation you use depends on the framework from which one is seeing things. That interpretation will determine if we understand improvisation, orality, or marginalization as stigmas – as they are seen in modern society – or if they will be seen as cultural elements and community strategies that go with certain concrete aims that work for society. Everything will depend on that conceptual framework from which you read things. For that reason, you have to do a reading from other frameworks of thought, to be able to advance here.

Take the case of the comparison between the oral mechanisms of transmission of knowledge versus the written ones. Leaving aside the hierarchies set by academia and by publishers about non-written knowledge, it is indeed very hard for the academic thought to address social processes. It gets bogged down in these contexts. It is backward and has problems getting away from pre-written texts to adapt itself to new social realities.

By contrast, oral processes, working with the most ordinary elements, can continually absorb and update knowledge, incorporating new facts that are being developed in real time, even second by second. You can see in festivals: how when people sing or improvise decimas [a ten-line song format used in the Cruz de Mayo festival], they incorporate what is happening at that very moment, or they refer to what has happened in the course of the year. They work on that material right there for the community. In these practices, you can see the potential of oral culture to process reality.

Marginality is more difficult to analyze in a positive sense. Yet one of the things that one finds when one works with marginalized populations of a society is how, for sure, the privileged center has more access to resources that the state administers, but to the same degree they have mechanisms of population control. They control the middle classes especially, who have codes of behavior, clothing, consumption and discourse that are very closed and pre-established.

The elite are freer from this. They have spaces of liberty. However, among marginal groups there are also spaces of freedom. They are outside of the focus, and they have the possibility to be creative. “Gordo Edgar” [Edgar Antonio Perez, a committed libertarian militant from the La Vega barrio in Caracas] said a few days ago that everything new was invented by poor people, by the marginal classes. Later what they invent is captured, coopted and used by other people, who turn it into a commodity.

VA: Can you tell us more about improvisation and how it operates in popular culture?

IPW: When I speak of improvisation, I am thinking in part about rituals among the African diaspora, where there are generally agreed-upon codes. I will talk about an example of that that is close at hand here: the “Velorio de la Cruz de Mayo” [religious‐cultural mestizo festival in honor to the cross, which is adorned with flowers], where they sing a kind of music that is typical of Barlovento that is called the fulia [musical style that is played with a string instrument, maracas and drum plus vocals]. The fulia has a basic chorus that is repeated and everyone knows it in the festival. There are moments for soloists that are four strophes and have a rhyming relation with the basic strophes.

In the fulia festival, all those who want to participate freely in this form of improvised expression can participate. Everybody sings in front of a cross. They make an arch in front of the cross, and everyone who incorporates him or herself in the arch can improvise a strophe for that fulia, using some very simple codes so that everybody can take part. Normally there is an token – it could be a flower or an instrument – which is passed [from one person to another]. The one who sings is whoever has the instrument…

So there is a whole apparatus that is prepared in advance, but it is all geared for the participation of everybody in an improvised way. Everyone who takes part using codes that are very simple, brings a new perspective, which generates a reinterpretation of what is happening in the present. It could be a re-interpretation of the community, of the person herself or of life. In these events, it often happens that many themes are discussed: gender, race, history. Perhaps there could be a discussion about barrio gangsters. Using the song forms, people improvise on themes that concern the community.

As I see it, improvisation is an apparatus for collective creation that allows one to deal with themes that are important, or forms that are important, or questions of the community, based on simple structures that allow everyone to participate.


<img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/styles/full_content/public/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/3tambores_de_curiepe.png?itok=xpbjSwOb” width=”843″ height=”536″ alt=”In Curiepe, a former cocoa plantation town in Barlovento, improvisational drumming is part of all local festivities. (Reference)” title=”In Curiepe, a former cocoa plantation town in Barlovento, improvisational drumming is part of all local festivities. (Reference)” />

In Curiepe, a former cocoa plantation town in Barlovento, improvisational drumming is part of all local festivities. (Reference)

VA: Cedric Robinson in his book Black Marxism, points out that despite the participation of black people in most of the rebellions and revolutions in Venezuelan history, they never projected a future African or black state, as happened elsewhere in the continent. Instead, the blacks, poor whites, mulatos, and indigenous people joined together in a broad class struggle. Is it true that this tendency toward integration into class struggle persists in Venezuelan society today?

IPW: I think the discussion about mestizaje [cultural mixing] in Venezuela – and that has developed elsewhere in Latin America as well – is important. It’s related to the discussion of the Creole cultural pattern. Indeed, there has been a wager for homogenization and an erasure of black struggle through the nationalist discourse and the discourse of the Creole and the mestizo [mixed race person].

Yet black and indigenous social movements have been critical of the mestizaje discourse, pointing how it tends to put the national or mestizo culture above problems, stories and situations that might related to indigenous groups (such as Yukpa or Piora) or might relate to the blacks from Aragua (who have very specific problems).

However, it’s also true that in Venezuela the dynamic of racial interchange and mestizaje has been much stronger than in other areas of the continent. That is a reality in Venezuela, and the struggles that have existed are very racially mixed. So it is a bit difficult, a bit unrealistic to project a black or indigenous state in Venezuela.

I think what must be put forth is an intercultural state. The struggles have to be directed toward building a state that is fully intercultural, with a view to really understanding, respecting and valuing other categorical frameworks.

In this moment there are parallel struggles taking place. The black movements and communities are leading – and it is a very powerful movement – their own struggles with regard to recognition of black culture in the constitution. With regard to education, there has been a process of incorporating the discourse of blackness, negritude, maroonage, etc., and thought given to how we interpret those terms. It’s necessary to make visible such cultural issues and the same goes for themes of indigenous culture.

However, with regard to the project of the state, there must be an effort to bring together all those efforts. There must be a space for everything to come together, a space for sharing and discussing a multiplicity of tendencies.


<img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/styles/full_content/public/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/4yaracuy.jpg?itok=CTpEz0F-” width=”768″ height=”632″ alt=”In Yaracuy state, a classroom implements a community‐organized black pensum. (Alba Ciudad)” title=”In Yaracuy state, a classroom implements a community‐organized black pensum. (Alba Ciudad)” />

In Yaracuy state, a classroom implements a community‐organized black pensum. (Alba Ciudad)

TriniVene Tribe

My father Don Pedro Machado Jr. left a beautiful family way too soon. He knew about other children but what about the child he never knew existed?

Don Pedro Machado Hamilton Jr.

Well, God in Her infinite wisdom determined that he would miss out and was deemed unable to truly enjoy the fruits of his own tree.

And because She is a comedian, She created us with DNA that doesn’t lie. Nor does that creation keep secrets.

So ironically, the very technology my father helped to create in the 50s and 60s (when he worked at Control Data Systems, and IBM in California) is the same technology that brought 6 of his children together in Los Angeles this weekend.

L to R – Debbie, Mimi, Lisa, David, Julio, Kerensa

A DNA match from Ancestry.com brought a new, beautiful, intelligent, extraordinary soul into our lives and we are so much more complete than we ever would be.

Lisa, Andy, and family our #TriniVeneTribe welcomes you with wide open arms.

I am so grateful to be the storyteller of our clan. Now I really understand what my TriniVene Tribe Documentary was missing. Thank you, Lisa, for helping to add to our already spectacular story! Daddy ya ent playing, ya good!

I am 1 of 14 siblings – Machado and Luces -who are each the epitome of family… so thank you Don Pedro, thank you Doña Josefa and Thank you Brothers and Sisters for always being family!

The turban is not a style – it is a legacy, a heritage passed down from 17th century enslaved black women to today’s progressive woman wearing her culture with pride. A tignon (spelled and pronounced tiyon) is a headcovering. A piece of material tied about the lady’s head to form the turban (see video below) that looks like the West African Gele. It was worn by Creole women of African descent in Louisiana during the Spanish colonial period, and continuing to the present day. This beautiful headdress was the result of laws passed in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. The tignon laws, enforced “appropriate” public dress for black women in colonial society. In Louisiana, and around the world, women of African descent vied with white women in beauty, dress and manners. One of the most standout physical attributes that separated us from the white counterparts was our hair. We would adorn our hair with colorful jewelry, beads and other accents, demonstrating an enticing appearance which attracted the white male suitors. Many of us had become openly kept mistresses of white, French, and Spanish Creole men. This perceived threat to white women’s relationships with French and Spanish Creole men incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. With the looming threat to the social status of white women growing and the attention garnered as a result of the jewelry adorned hairstyles from women of African descent, action was required. To correct this, Governor Miró decreed that women of African descent, slave or free, should cover their hair and heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from “excessive attention to dress” to maintain class distinctions. Historian Virginia M. Gould notes that Miró hoped the law would control women “who had become too light skinned or who dressed too elegantly, or who, in reality, competed too freely with white women for status and thus threatened the social order.” Miró’s intent of having the tignon mark inferiority had the opposite effect, according to historian Carolyn Long[3]who noted: “Instead of being considered a badge of dishonor, the tignon…became a fashion statement. The bright reds, blues, and yellows of the scarves, and the imaginative wrapping techniques employed by their wearers, are said to have enhanced the beauty of the women of color.” The women who were targets of this decree were inventive and imaginative. They decorated tignons with their jewels and ribbons, and used the finest available materials to wrap their hair. In other words, “[t]hey effectively re-interpreted the law without technically breaking the law”[4]—and they continued to be pursued by men. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

Africans’ Sovereignty in the Americas

Enslaved Africans Reclaimed Their Freedom All Over the Americas

Celebrating AfroVenezuelan history each and every May 10 to June 10… Through the leadership of the late President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela had been combating the historical legacy of racism and recognizing the national importance of African heritage, promoting social inclusion and respect for Afro-Venezuelans. Among them is the official celebration of the Month of Africa in May and Day of Afro-Venezuelans on May 10th.

In Venezuela, the story of the real communities of enslaved people who freed themselves existed and grew exponentially during the seventeenth century in South America.  In Venezuela, these townships were called Cumbes. “Cumbe” was an African term signifying “a separate or out-of-the-way place.”So much so was the enslaved Africans’ suffering and mistreatment by their enslavers, that escape became a necessary action for survival. Reportedly by 1720 there were between 20,000 and 30,000 Cimarrones particularly in Venezuela, compared to 60,000 slaves still working on the plantations (Rout 1976, 111112).

Cimarrones Pueblo Negro

Typically located over river banks or secretly imbedded in remote mountainous land, cumbes were well hidden and housed about 120 residents. The communities were also called rochelos and patucos. Indigenous tribes in the area (e.g., the Tomusa tribe in Barlovento) helped the Cimarrones and the cumbe populations became a special mix of not only freed Africans, but also Indigenous tribes and even poor Whites.  Cimarrón groups were masters of subterfuge, raiding plantations, freeing other enslaved people, and trading contraband.

Barlovento was ground-zero for intense cimarrón resistance and the fight for freedom throughout the 18th century, with several cumbe settlements established around Curiepe and Caucagua. The most notable of these was that of Ocoyta, founded around 1770 by the legendary Guillermo Rivas. After leading several raids on various plantations both to liberate enslaved Africans and to punish overseers, the Spaniards had to organize an army to find and destroy Ocoyta and to murder Rivas.


The only town of free Blacks officially recognized by the spaniards was Curiepe, established in Barlovento in 1721 under the leadership of Captain Juan del Rosario Blanco. The community was comprised of former members of Caracas’s Company of Free Blacks as well as huangos from the Antilles. The latter were escaped Africans who, like all Blacks fleeing non-Spanish-speaking islands, were granted freedom upon arrival in Venezuela if they were willing to be baptized.

Read more:http://www.everyculture.com/South-America/Afro-Venezuelans-History-and-Cultural-Relations.html#ixzz53py2nIie

Minette et Lise

A truly legendary name in Haitian history, Minette, was freed woman of African descent or an Affranchi.  Minette et Lise (her sister) broke through staggering racial barriers of the late 16th century to become a star performers on the colonial stage. Minette et Lise fought to find both their artistic and a political voices, using their story as a bridge to cross over and examine all encompassing questions about politics, art, sexuality, and revolutionary change.

Artist Rendering of Minette et Lise
Artist Rendering of Minette et Lise

Minette and Lise were born in PortauPrince in Saint Domingue in the affranchi community. Their father was whiteand their mother an affranchi of African originThe word affranchi in Haiti and other French Caribbean colonies was a term used specifically for an emancipated slave. The white colonizers generally used the word for all free people of color (gens de couleur libre). Most of those were mulattoesor of mixed raceand some were born free. The word has its roots in the French word for emancipation – “affranchisement“, or enfranchisement

The sisters were discovered by Madame Acquariean actress and singer of the PortauPrince Theatrewho offered them lessons in actingwhich they acceptedIn 1780they debuted in the ballet la Danse sur le Volcan.  However, Minette was also a talented vocalistand on Christmas Day in 1780they were contracted at the theatre by François SaintMartin.

Because of her race, Minette’s very presence onstage was always risky and her voice was constantly weaponized.  In 1780, Minette performed onstage for the first time. Haitian author Marie Vieux-Chauvet in the novel Amour, colère et folie , dramatized the scene of Minette’s debut by imagining the terror the young girl must have felt as she stared out at the crowd: with rows and rows of white faces looking up at her, expecting to be entertained. And when the violin struck its first chord, Minette opened her mouth but no sound came out.

Then, Minette looked up, high into the box seats, which in the segregated theater were reserved for people of color.  “Jammed together and piled on top of one another,” Vieux-Chauvet writes, “they seemed attached to each other in an immense solidarity that suddenly revealed itself to her. They were waiting, too. There was something so distressing in their eyes it made her want to scream.” And when Minette saw them, a “series of images unfurled in her memory at a dizzying pace” – of her people being whipped, the terrifying sound of lashes, and finally the empowering voice of a friend telling her that now her voice had become her weapon. So when the violin hit the opening note for a third time, “her voice rang out, crystal clear, warm and so full that a long murmur of admiration ran through the audience.” In that moment,  Minette understood why she sang, because she was called to show her humanity and be a beacon of hope and liberation for her people.  And by February of 1781Minette performed as Isabelle in the Opera Isabelle et Gertrude.

Although Saint Domingue was a known slave societyit was not forbidden for nonwhites to work on the stageMinette became quite famous; as she rivaled the French singer, Jeanne-Marie Marsan la Blanche, who was considered the creme de la creme of Cap Haitian.  Many in colonial Haiti criticized Francois SaintMartin for degrading art by hiring performers of African descent. 

Minette’s career attracted envy and gossip; ore likely provoked by her luxurious costumesMinette and Lise sang in concerts and operas during the 1780samong them SylvainZémire et AzorAucassin et NicoletteLAmant jaloux and La caravane du CaireLise was not as successful as Minettebut had a good career touring the theatres of PortauPrinceLéogâneCayes and SaintMarc after a break through performance in Cayes in 1784.

The sisters were the most popular nonwhite actors before the revolutionThey were also among the first nonwhite actors on stageSadly Minette et Lise were both killed in 1789 during the first revolt in Haiti before the Haitian revolution of 1791.

French colonial SaintDomingue (now Haitihad three social classes that arose out of the institution of slavery: French plantersaffranchisa small elite class of mixed racesome of whom became landowners and slaveholders in turnand enslaved AfricansThe affranchis were usually lightskinned (mulattoesfree persons of color, often the offspring of white French slaveholders and enslaved African women whom they took for mistresses and who had their children.

There were tensions with both whites and enslaved AfricansMany whites used “affranchis” for all free people of coloralthough it specifically meant “exslave“, so referred to free Africans rather than mulattoesThe institution of slavery confused ideas about status and raceAmbitious mulattoes sometimes distanced themselves from their African roots in an attempt to gain acceptance from the white colonistsAs they advanced in society, “affranchis” also held land and slavesSome acted as creditors for plantersOne of their leadersthe indigo planter Julien Raimondclaimed the “affranchis” owned a third of all the slaves in the colonyMany were committed to maintaining slavery in the early years of the French Revolution and Haitian Revolution.

After the Haitian Revolution and years of disruptionmost of the planters leftThe society evolved into the “affranchis” and the masses of former slaves

Black History is Global – Rey Benkos Bioho

Before Harriett went Underground…

Before the Maroons freed themselves…

Before – Yanga, Miguel, Zumbi or Douglass…

Before them, came Benkos Bioho.

Benkos Bioho – The King of Arcabuco, the free African community in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia still exists today. Arcabuco has been a free community with it’s own language, leadership, education system and security force since the early 1600’s…

Identity = to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…


Aspectos del corregimiento de San Basilio de Palenque, zona rural del municipio de Mahates. Imágenes para especial de turismo cultural

Benkos Biohó (1585 – 1621) was a young African King – a member of the Royal family that reigned over the Bissagos Islands off the coast of Guinea Bissau. Unfortunately, Benkos was kidnapped as a young boy by a Portuguese enslaver – Pedro Gomes Reinel. Young Benkos was sold to another enslaver to be shackled and taken to Colombia- and sold again to the Spaniard Alonso del Campo in 1596, in Cartagena de Indias.

When the Spanish / Portuguese began to enslave people from Africa to Colombia, there were those who escaped and formed free communities of Palenqueros and their enclaves were known as Palenques in Colombia.

Benkos Biohó is the most famous of all escaped enslaved people. He arrived in Cartagena de Indias in 1596, where he was sold and enslaved, yet his enslavement did not last long. Benkos Bioho’s destiny was determined by the African birthright he possessed and not those who attempted to possess him.

Biohó made his first attempted escape from captivity during his first few days on dry land – when the boat transporting him down the Magdalena River sank. He was recaptured, but escaped again in 1599 into the marshy lands southeast of Cartagena. And from then the young king organized an army that came to dominate all of the Montes de Maria region.

The brutal mistreatment of slaves served as an impetus for rebellions.  Biohó, raised and prepared as the King of his Tribe on the Bissagos Islands. Benkos used his leadership skills and royal African training in Colombia to unite with other slaves and they banded together to flee their captors.

Bioho freed his wife, three other men and three other women, plus an additional 22 enslaved people and fled with them. The group of 30 headed out into the swamps and camped near the village of Tolú over 50 miles away.

Bioho proceeded to organize his newly formed kingdom – the Palenque into a well guarded fortress, fit for a King. For many years the group launched attacks on Spanish interests and were unstoppable.

King Benkos formed a sophisticated intelligence network, using the information to organize more escapes and guided the newly freed people into the liberated territory, now known as a Palenque. Benkos Biohó was crowned “King of Arcabuco“. At about 50 miles east of Cartagena, the hills of strategic value were used as lookout posts, that led enslaved Africans to the Freed Neighborhoods that exist to this day – Sincerin, Mahates and Gambote.

The Governor of Cartagena furiously tried to stop the freed community, but failed.  So on the 18th of July 1605, the Governor of Cartagena, offered a peace treaty to Biohó.  In this agreement the Spaniards would recognize the autonomy of the Matuna Bioho Palenque and accept his entrance into the city armed and dressed in the Spanish fashion.  

The Palenqueros in turn promised to stop receiving more runaway slaves, cease their aid in escape attempts and stop addressing Biohó as “King”.  A Peace Accord was finally established in 1612.

Benkos Bioho.jpeg

Statue of Benkos Bioho King of Arabuco

Finally almost a century after the brutal murder of its founding father, in 1713 San Basilio de Palenque became the first free village in the Americas by decree from the King of Spain. The Spaniards gave up their futile attempts of sending their troops on failed missions to attack the fortified mountain Palenque. But still, Benkos Biohó established the first freed African community of San Basilio de Palenque some time in the 16th century. Sadly, Biohó was betrayed and hanged by the governor of Cartagena in 1619.

The treaty was violated in 1619 when they captured Biohó as he was walking unguarded and unarmed into the city. He was hanged and quartered on 16 March 1621. Governor Garcia Giron ordered the execution and argued bitterly that “it was dangerous, the respect Biohó generated in the population” claiming that “his lies and enchantment would drive the nations of Guinea away from the city.”  

But the Palenque survived and by the end of the seventeenth century, the area of Montes de Maria had over 600 Palenqueros living freely.

While under the command of Domingo Padilla and his wife Jane, the team successfully challenged further attempts at relinquishing sovereignty from the colonial authorities.

Los Cimarrones

Of their numerous significant contributions, Palenques played an important role in the conservation of African traditions and culture in Colombia. The San Basilio Palenque, on the Atlantic coast, has survived centuries maintaining African social and cultural traditions in the Americas. Palenques and other freed slave communities are an important source for research of various historic, anthropologic and linguistic studies documenting the African significance and dominance in Colombian culture.

San Basilio de Palenque was declared Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.[1]

Los Africans Y Simon; Luchando Para Independencia

La Vida En Black History continues today as Venezuela struggles with its sovereignty. Their fight today is not unlike their fight 100 + years ago… Afro-Venezuelans have continued to live in deep poverty and subjugation.  This Venezuelan African, prays for peaceful, and productive change.

Black-Venezuelans played a decisive role in the struggle for the nation’s independence from Spain. At first the enslaved people went to war for their Spanish colonizers, believing that their land owner and masters were their enemigo.  In particular, the notorious royalist battalion of General José Tomás Boves attracted many enslaved soldiers because his viciousness was appealing in extracting revenge from the horrors of enslavement. However, Bolívar, ever the strategist,  began to realize the importance of Afro-Venezuelan soldiers in the fight for independence.

Bolivar formally declared the abolition of slavery in 1812 and again in 1816, after promising Haitian President Alexandre Pétion that he would secure freedom for the enslaved people in return for Haitian military aid. A major landowner himself, Bolívar freed 1,000 enslaved people, and in 1819 recruited 5,000 of them into his army. José Antonio Paéz, a key figure in Venezuelan independence, led an army of Blacks from the llanos (plains). One of his most famous lieutenants, Pedro Camejo, has been immortalized in Venezuelan history as “El Negro Primero,” because he was always the first to ride into battle and attack his opponents with a knife.  In the final battle of Carabobo, Camejo was mortally wounded but returned to General Paéz to utter one of the most famous statements in Venezuelan history: “General, vengo decirle, adiós, porque estoy muerto” (General, I have come to say goodbye, because I am dead). A statue of El Negro Primero stands in the Plaza Carabobo in Caracas—the only statue commemorating a Black Man in all of Venezuela.

Interestingly enough, El Negro Primero is always depicted wearing a turban, the same iconography used for the mythical figure from Afro-Venezuelan folklore, Negro Felipe.

The historical Negro Felipe (literally “Black Philip”) had escaped enslavement from Cuba and played a prominent role in the struggle for Cuban independence. He went on to serve as Simon Bolivar’s aide before being murdered by Spanish colonists in Venezuela.

Now among the most beloved of the spirits of Maria Lionza, (A fused religion of African Ebo and Carib Indigenous belief system) he is venerated independently and is now one of the Très Potencias, the triad consisting of Felipe, Maria Lionza, and Guaicaipuro. Felipe is considered a glorified ancestor, crowned the head of the African Court and an important member of the Court of Liberators. Felipe serves as the spiritual link between Maria Lionza, and the Yoruba or traditional African religions that are today, increasingly popular in Venezuela.

With the declaration of independence in 1810, all human trafficking in the newly formed Venezuela was outlawed. The decline in slavery continued throughout the War of Independence when, at its conclusion in 1821, the “Ley de vientre” was passed, stating that all children born, whether of slave or free parents, were automatically free. By the 24th of March 1854, the date of slavery’s official abolition in Venezuela, less than 24,000 enslaved people remained.

Throughout the twentieth century, Blacks in Venezuela have faced subtle forms of racial discrimination despite a philosophy of racial democracy and an ideology of mestizaje that contends all groups have blended together to form a new, indistinguishable type, called the mestizo. Yet right below the surface of this social ideology is this intentional discriminatory racist policy of blanqueamiento, or “whitening,” that has encouraged both the physical and cultural assimilation of Afro-Venezuelans into a Euro-dominated mainstream. An important semantic counterpart to the process of blanqueamiento is that found in the term negrear, which denotes concepts of “marginalization” or “trivialization.” Image result for jesus garcia venezuelaThe emergence of Black intellectuals such as Juan Pablo Sojo and Manuel Rodrigues Cárdenas in the 1940s, and more recently of younger writers such as Jesús García (pictured above) has helped counter the negative forces of blanqueamiento. A strong body of research in Afro-Venezuelan history and folklore has also been established by Venezuelan scholars, particularly Miguel Acosta Saignes (1967). tumblr_memrwgkdps1qducpxo1_1280Public festivals such as the Fiesta de San Juan have emerged as focal points in the reappropriation of Afro-Venezuelan culture, articulating current transformations in a living tradition of cimarronaje (resistance to the dominant culture, consciousness of being marginal). Throughout Venezuela and the rest of South America the enlightenment of the descendants of Africans is growing and Black South Americans are embracing the beauty of their own identity.