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November 29, 2017


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What was the population of the Viceroyalty of La Plata like on the eve of independence? I know that there was a substantial African-descended population that has since been marginalized, but what about the general population?

We don't have an exact population figure, but the consensus is about 310,000. There were 69,000 Afro-Argentines, according to Andrews, Afro-Latin America (2004), p. 41.

The African descended population in Argentina was not just marginalized. They were activeky reduced by, for example, being sent to battle in the war with Paraguay in disproportionate numbers. They also suffered more from diseases such as yellow fever.

Sarmiento allegedly engaged in genocidal actions against Afro Argentines. Source: http://www.ibtimes.com/blackout-how-argentina-eliminated-africans-its-history-conscience-1289381

Similarly, Roca's desert campaign must have killed many natives and it is reasonable to assume that the majority of aboriginal casualties were of males, with females later integrating into the European descended society.

Could also be explained by X-linked or mitochondrial genes that conferred resistance to local diseases. Not terribly likely, but ignoring genetic explanations for genetic data seems risky.

Eric: that's a good point. I agree it's unlikely, but it seems rather more plausible in the Puerto Rican case than in the Argentine one. The reason being that Puerto Rico was a tropical environment, whereas Argentina is smack in the temperate zone.

But that's the difference between unlikely and very unlikely, certainly worth thinking about.

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