First Afro-Latino Presidents: México’s Vicente Guerrero and Colombia’s Juan José Nieto

On this Presidents’ Day which coincides with Black History month, we wanted to shine the light on two historic Afro-Latino presidents.

VICENTE RAMÓN GUERRERO SALDAÑA (Afro-Mestizo) México’s 2nd President from April 1, 1829 – December 17, 1829. He is technically the first black president of North America.

A true liberal, Guerrero fought for racially and economically oppressed. He called for public schools, land title reforms, etc., and he also fought to recognize civil rights for all, REGARDLESS of percentage of European lineage.

He ordered an immediate abolition of slavery (of Indigenous and African descendants) on September 16 of 1829, which was largely directed at the Mexican state of Coahuilas yTejas, where European colonizers were invading and bringing in slavery. (This eventually leads to the Battle of the Alamo.)

Guerrero had a vision for a free and equal México. Ultimately he was betrayed, captured and executed

He is remembered as one of México’s greatest heroes of the revolution, a general that fought in the Mexican war for Independence. Today, his iconic phrase can still be seen on buildings and heard by the people…  “La patria es primero.”

JUAN JOSÉ NIETO GIL (Afro-Colombian) Colombia’s first black president who was ERASED from history. Nieto served as president from January 25, 1861 – July 18, 1861

President Nieto fought for reform and also pushed for the abolition of slavery and declared Bolívar free of slavery. He was a liberal, a military general, a novelist and he also founded two newspapers: La Democracia and El Cartagenero

After his death in 1866, they had his portrait sent to Paris to have his skin color altered and whitened. When it returned, the elites hid his portrait to be lost amongst junk over the decades.

Over 100 years later, it was discovered and sent to be restored, where his original skin color was then revealed. In 2008, a sociologist, who was inspired by the U.S. election of Barack Obama, began to work on Nieto’s story and having Nieto recognized by Colombian government. On his deathbed, he made a last request and he asked his friend (who was a journalist) to continue the work.

Ten years later in 2018, Juan José Nieto was finally officially recognized and took his rightful place in Colombia’s history as the 14th president.

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