Andrea is a medium who practises Umbanda rituals in the village of Santiago Vazquez. The religion believes that the power of the medium is the most important thing, not their sex or sexuality, so men, women and gays have equal status as leaders.
Uruguay – Fact Check

In Uruguay, Africa is omnipresent

Photo by Francesco Pistilli

Uruguay – Fact Check In Uruguay, Africa is omnipresent

Did you know that one out of ten Uruguayans is of African descent?

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

Although considered one of the most “European” countries in Latin America, Uruguay has a strong African history. The Constitution of 1830 guaranteed equality under the law and it is generally agreed that the position of blacks is perhaps the best in the Americas.

However, with many of their roots in slavery, Afro-Uruguayans still face discrimination and twice as many live below the poverty line than in the general population. In response, the government has passed affirmative action laws, which include the provision of scholarships and inclusion of Afro-Uruguayan history and culture in the school curriculum.

While Afro-Uruguayans have always had to fight for their rights, they have also benefitted from the nation’s prosperity. The economic boom of the mid-1800s to early 1900s gave Uruguay the highest rates of literacy and newspaper readership in Latin America. Afro-Uruguayan writers and journalists were responsible for setting up some 25 newspapers and other periodicals.

African music and dance – most notably drum-fueled candombe – has made a major contribution to the national culture, while Umbanda – a syncretic Brazilian religion that blends African traditions with Roman Catholicism, Spiritism, and indigenous American beliefs – religion is also undergoing a major resurgence.

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