For those of African ancestry, in particular those in Argentina, it is important to find out just why their history and perhaps their very existence have been so whitewashed. These questions are just as important to a historian, or any person who is interested in the matter, and need to be answered.
Argentina was not a plantation oriented country; therefore, the slave trade did not flourish as much as in other parts of Latin America. However, this does not mean that there were no slaves in Argentina in general and Buenos Aires in particular. Buenos Aires was, in fact, one of the major ports where the slave ships were docked (Molina). From these slave ships, a lot of slaves were smuggled into Buenos Aires, of course with the tacit consent of the authorities. Most of the African slaves that were obtained in Buenos Aires were either for household help purposes (cooks, handmaids etc.) or were artisans who were rented out by their masters to those in need of their services (Quintana). Moreover, the tasks that were considered to be below the dignity of the “white” population, such as cleaning the sewers, were also relegated to them (Quintana). Some estimates state that about one-fourth to one-third of the population of Buenos Aires, in the early nineteenth century, comprised of Afro-Argentines (Gudmundson). However, by the late nineteenth century, in the 1887 census to be exact, they comprised of about 1.8% of the population (Reel 1), after which a new category was introduced in their stead, that of “trigueno” or “wheatish” (Mundra 1), which of course included such white Europeans as the Italians and Sicilians who were darker than the others.
So the question that begs to be asked is: where did all these Afro-Argentines disappear? And if it is to be accepted that there is no longer any Afro-Argentine or black population in Buenos Aires, then how does one account for people who