- Interview with Gabriel Saucedo, Linda Hernandez Tobar, and Paloma Hernandez / Una Entrevista con Gabriel Saucedo, Linda Hernandez Tobar y Paloma Hernandez
- Interview with Gabriel Saucedo, Linda Hernandez Tobar, and Paloma Hernandez
This interview was conducted on May 14, 2007, in Mata Clara, Veracruz, Mexico.
ROWELL: What is your work here in this region of the State of Veracruz? What kind of work are you doing here?
SAUCEDO: We are doing a study on cardiovascular risks among what we consider the Afro Mexican population. We're part of a health institute called the Institute of Nutrition.
ROWELL: It is very exciting for me to hear you use the term Afro-Mexican because so few people even in Mexico have ever used this term. How did you know that there were Mexican communities that consist mainly of people of African descent? How did you discover that?
SAUCEDO: I'm an anthropologist. We know the history of the Mexican population's roots. We all know that Mexico has three roots, that we come from three distinct groups: the Spaniards, the indigenous population, and the Africans. We've known for a long time that there are African groups here that are descendents of Africans.
ROWELL: I think of the people of African descent as being mainly in the States of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Guerrero. Are there other areas where these descendents of Africans are located?
SAUCEDO: Those are the three main regions. But there are many other regions where, historically, the black populations settled. For instance, in the northern part of the country, there are at least two important groups in the State of Sinaloa. As a matter of fact, there's an American group of blacks that came to Mexico. They're called "moscobos." And there are other groups in the States of Guanajuato and Puebla. There are many places where we know there are populations of African origin. There's also a genetic study of the population that was done a long time ago in many parts of Mexico. That's also why we know there are black populations in different regions of the country.
ROWELL: Who are the other people, other than university professors, who acknowledge the existence of these people? There seems to be, even within some of the communities [End Page 139]
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themselves, a lot of people who deny that they are of African descent. Officials even deny that such people exist. It's so interesting to me that you know about this and that you are making an effort to study the group. Would you talk about how there is a kind of national forgetfulness regarding the origins of the people, and how even the people themselves don't know they are of African origin and some who know but they deny it. Would you talk about this complex situation I'm describing?
SAUCEDO: Yes, it is a very complex situation. On the government's part, there is a bit of the idea of not re-labeling the population as black or indigenous. So demographical information, population information, that is published is all general. The only difference that's being made is among those who speak an indigenous language and the rest of the population. That's the official stance. In fact, even there, the difference is minimal. And what you say is quite true, Charles, about people knowing little about history. People know little of their history. The people of African origin know little of their history. And you're right about people not wanting to accept or look again at that history. They deny that part of history about being a black population. They prefer to identify themselves as Mexican and leave it at that. The great achievement, we might say, is to be Mexican and to be considered Mexican. That is important.
JONES: Who is sponsoring the work that you're doing?
SAUCEDO: The project is getting funding from my institute, the Institute of Nutrition. But it's very little money...