Statute of Gaspar Yanga

Mexico – Yanga, First Black Town In North America

Yanga is a municipality located in the southern area of the State of Veracruz. In 1932 it was renamed after Gaspar Yanga, the cimarron leader who in 1609 resisted an attack by Spanish forces trying to regain control of the area.

Despite the enslaving and indentured labor of a high percentage of the indigenous people under Spanish colonial rule, Mexico, then called New Spain, imported many enslaved Africans. It is considered to have been the country with the fourth-largest population of enslaved Black people in the Americas, most of whom arrived via the Gulf port of Veracruz.

Gaspar Yanga worked in the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción sugarcane plantation not too far from this port. In 1570, he led several of his fellow enslaved people into escaping from the plantation, and together they established a palenque, a settlement of freed people.

Yanga grew to include formerly enslaved Africans. The Spanish authorities tried to subdue the palenque in 1609. Yanga’s forces successfully defended their population, and in 1631, the viceroy Rodrigo Pacheco declared the community to be a free town under the name of San Lorenzo de los Negros.