Premiered Oct 3, 2019
“NO BLACKS” IN ARGENTINA. Argentina is perceived by many to be a primarily white, European country, with Buenos Aires often referred to as the “Paris of Latin America” in popular culture. This perception is rooted in a post-colonial eugenics process where Argentine leaders and intellectuals in the 19th century, especially during the Generation of 1837 and the Generation of 1880, actively made an effort to systematically erase Black Argentines from the country’s history, popular culture, and society in an effort to position the nation as a global power modeled after the US and Europe. During the second half of the 19th century, the Afro-Argentine population was rapidly and heavily decimated. This was the result of several factors. In the first place, Black Argentines were enlisted en masse to fight for the Argentine military in the Paraguayan War of 1865. The conflict resulted in the deaths of thousands of Black men, culminating in a heavy gender imbalance in the Afro-Argentine population. As such, this led Black women to increasingly form relationships and have children with white or mixed partners. Then, cholera epidemics hit Buenos Aires in the 1860’s, followed by yellow fever in 1871, devastating the Afro-Argentine population due to the squalid conditions in which many were forced to live as a result of systematic discrimination, with nearly non-existent access to proper sanitation or healthcare. Other Black Argentines fled to Brazil or Uruguay where they hoped they would encounter both better living conditions and more opportunity. Yet, the hard blow to this population was not enough for many Argentine leaders, politicians, and intellectuals who wished to elevate Argentina’s position in the world so it would be equal in rank and social prestige to the United States or many of Europe’s great powers. Viewing the whiteness of a population as a measure of social status, the mere existence of Afro-Argentines symbolized to these leaders an inherent antithesis to Argentina’s ascension in the global sphere.