This photo, from the year 2009, shows Lucía Dominga Molina Sandez and Mario Luis López Casciari, founders of the Casa de la Cultura Indo-Afro-Americana. (Casa de la Cultura Indo-Afro-Americana photo)

Many years ago, I met Lucía Dominga Molina Sandez at an academic conference organized by Professor Sheila Walker, when she was the director of the Center for Afro American Studies at the University of Texas in 1996. That meeting led to the publication of “African roots/American cultures: Africa in the creation of the Americas.” This book includes a piece entitled “Afro Argentineans: ‘forgotten’ and ‘disappeared’––yet still present,” written by Lucía Dominga Molina and the late Mario Luis López.

Colonial history has always tried to describe the African presence and its diaspora in the Americas as invisible. The white creole bourgeoisie, particularly in South America, has tried to hide the African presence, and this is most evident in the Southern Cone. We should not forget that during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Argentina played a crucial role as a distribution port for thousands of Africans who had been kidnapped and transported for enslavement.

As in all countries, there was resistance to enslavement in Argentina, as well as active participation in the nation’s 19th-century struggles for independence. With this in mind, Dominga Molina and her husband Mario Luis López Casciari founded the Casa de la Cultura Indo-Afro-Americana on March 21, 1988; their founding day coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The Casa de la Cultura Indo-Afro-Americana, based in Santa Fe, Argentina, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization whose basic objectives are, according to, Dominga Molina “the recovery, defense, development, dissemination, and valorization of our cultural roots, with emphasis on the cultural roots of the Indigenous people and those of the Africans transplanted to America by enslavement. The promotion of the recovery of the historical memory of our people, and the awareness and visibilization of those roots. To fight against racism and all types of discrimination. To work locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally with like-minded organizations and to establish a level of coordination and dissemination of our issues. Promote the development of the Indigenous and Afro American communities. And to promote, encourage, defend, and disseminate the theme of Human Rights.”

An unending struggle for cultural reaffirmation

Casa de la Cultura’s rationale, Dominga Molina said, is based on the fact that “we have four grandmothers common to all of us—regardless of our genealogical past, all the millions of Argentines have four common ancestors and our roots are in them.

“The Aboriginal grandmother, of whom little is known, is the oldest. She has been living in America for more than 20,000 years and is still here. Without knowing her, we will never be able to grasp our own identity, which unites us all.

“Then comes the Black grandmother, who made substantial contributions to our colonial, neocolonial, and republican history; we do not know much about her, either, but her blood is present in all of us.

“Of the conquistador grandfather and grandmother, we know too much. And of the immigrant grandmother, even more: her history is the most recent, because we can speak to her at home or at the neighbor’s. (This is in accord with the ideas written about in the 1980s by Argentine anthropologist and sociologist Guillermo Magrassi).

“Throughout the existence of Casa de la Cultura, we have carried out an extensive and intense activity of cultural diffusion and research, and participated in conferences, roundtables, workshops, and book presentations, [and] lectures and debates in primary schools, high schools, and universities. We emphasize that we believe it is important to work and raise awareness among future teachers of history (who are often ignorant about this curricular subject).

“We have organized recitals, festivals, and choreographic and theatrical shows. We presented the play ‘Los Negros de Santa Fe’ with a script by Mario López in several local venues and in other provinces.”

López was in charge of setting up Casa de la Cultura’s library, documentation center, sound library, and photo library (in 2003, it was destroyed by the flood that devastated a third part of the population of the city of Santa Fe due to the government’s negligence).

In 2009, a project was presented to the Santa Fe City Council to demarcate the place where Africans and their descendants lived during the Jesuit period. The idea was to have the Paseo, in the city’s historic district, which was first named Paseo de la Cultura (in honor of the Europeans), changed and given a plaque naming it Paseo de las Tres Culturas, so it also honored the Indigenous and Afro Argentineans. This was the first national recognition of Argentina’s enslaved Africans. From that moment on, other groups from other Argentinean provinces have formed and joined the Red Federal de Afroargentinos del Tronco Colonial (Federal Network of Afro-Argentines of the Colonial Trunk).

Casa de la Cultura has been putting on the radio program “Indoafroamerica” since 2003 on Radio Nacional Santa Fe and the show “La Tercera Raíz” on FM Popular 98.7 in Barrio Santa Rosa de Lima. From 2014 to today, they have also been doing “Identidad” on FM 107.1.

They have taught Guarani and Portuguese language courses and work with aboriginal communities in the area to conduct workshops on human rights.

Casa de la Cultura works to promote Blacks in Argentina, fight racism, and advocate for a historical review of the position Blacks hold today in a supposedly white Argentinean society.

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