Until 1650 there were more African slaves in Mexico than anywhere else in the Americas. Until 1810 there were more Africans living in Mexico than Spaniards. (From Bobby Vaughn’s dissertation “Race and Nation: A Study of Blackness in Mexico” ref Wikipedia) This was due to the fact that early on Spanish women were not sailing to Mexico and the Spanish population was slower to grow.
Spanish Mexico’s history is of slavery is overshadowed by the vast numbers of Africans sold as laborers in the Caribbean, the United States and Brazil. Although Veracruz on the east coast of Mexico is envisioned as a black state due to the legacy of slaves coming into it’s ports, few people, including most Mexicans, realize that a much larger black Mexican population lives along Mexico’s “Costa Chica” (west coast) which runs just east of Acapulco in Guerrero state down to Huatulco in the state of Oaxaca. Some call themselves Afro-Meztizo (meztizo being the term for the mix of indigenous and Spanish blood) and although they are Mexican, they are beginning to celebrate their black heritage through artistic and cultural activities.
This explains why, when I arrived in Oaxaca in June of 2006, I noticed, in just not a few people, what appeared to be African traits in skin tone and hair texture. In fact, while riding the bus one day during the teacher strike, I also noticed banners hung on the fence surrounding the University calling for more attention to Mexico’s black brothers and sisters.