Scholars of Latín America have begun to interrogate the spatial dynamics of race within nations. We are starting to examine the regional dimensions of racial identity and the racial dimensions of regionalism.1 This article traces the nineteenth-century history of the Colombian coffee region, which is famous for the whiteness and industriousness of its inhabitants, from the vantage point of Riosucio, a district in which almost half of the population identified itself in the 1993 census as indigenous. I consider regional identity, like race, to be a social construct that has resulted from specific historical processes. The history of Riosucio and the coffee region of which it forms a part illustrates some of the ways in which nineteenth-century Colombians organized racial hierarchy in their national space. They created an interregional geography of race and status that privileged certain places and peoples within the nation as white, modern, and progressive while denigrating others as backward and inferior. As anthropologist Peter Wade has observed, in Colombia “region has become a powerful language of cultural and racial differentiation.”2

During the nineteenth century, inhabitants of the state of Antioquia in northwestern Colombia migrated into neighboring states, most notably the state of Cauca.3 They settled an area that became known as “greater Antioquia” (Antioquia la grande). Scholarly literature and popular nostalgia have created a “rosy legend” (leyenda rosa) of Antioqueño migration that has idealized the Antioqueño migrants as the “self-styled Yankees of South America”4—intrepid white pioneers who civilized a wild frontier and integrated Colombia into the international market economy through the cultivation and marketing of coffee. In recent decades, a revisionist and more critical literature has painted the colonización antioqueña in more somber colors, emphasizing conflict and exploitation.5 Both the light and dark legends of nineteenth-century Antioqueño migration, however, share a common flaw. They attribute agency in the settlement process almost exclusively to the Antioqueños themselves, thus casting Antioqueños as inherently more energetic and innovative than other Colombians. This article, however, shows that the “Antioqueño colonization” was not exclusively an Antioqueño initiative. Cancanos participated actively in transforming (or “Antioqueñoizing”) part of eastern Cauca.

The history of Antioqueño migration into Cauca should be placed within the context of widespread nineteenth-century understandings of progress that associated modernization with European origin. Cauca elites encouraged Antioqueño settlement at a time when statesmen throughout Latin America were trying to modernize their populations by encouraging European immigration. Latin American elites associated Europeans with progress and often showed a marked preference for white European workers over those from other continents and over their own popular classes of African and indigenous origin.6 Historians have recognized and discussed the international dynamics of racial “whitening” for places such as Argentina and southern Brazil, where efforts to promote European immigration were most successful. But the interregional dynamics of whitening and migration have received less attention. The case of Antioqueño settlement is important because it demonstrates that whitening processes also took place in countries—and regions within countries—that lacked the necessary infrastructure and capital to effectively facilitate European immigration.7 When European immigration proved unattainable, some regional elites looked around and identified some of their own neighbors as potential “immigrants.” Such was the case for Antioqueño migrants in Cauca.

Catherine LeGrand’s pathbreaking research on Colombian frontier settlement has demonstrated that much of rural Colombia was on the move in the nineteenth century. Landless peasants, former slaves, and displaced Indians continually expanded the agricultural frontier. LeGrand suggested that in Colombia, unlike in countries where foreign immigration was successful, “the native settler was lauded as a hardworking, determined, even heroic type whose efforts to open new lands advanced the cause of national development.”8 This astute observation holds true for certain rural Colombians but—importantly—not for all. Not all of the poor cultivators clearing forested slopes and valley floors for agriculture gained elite approval.9 In Cauca, lawmakers, large landowners, and other leading citizens at the state and local level often expressed disdain for their own rural poor, especially Afro-Caucanos and Indians. Businessmen and politicians longed to replace their unsatisfactory local population with migrants whom they regarded as more productive. Since Cauca did not attract Europeans in large numbers, elite Caucanos turned instead to migrants from neighboring states, mainly Antioquia.

This article will demonstrate that while they had diverse economic and political motives for facilitating Antioqueño settlement, Caucanos displayed a common tendency to associate Antioquia with “progress.” When Caucanos advocated Antioqueño migration, they framed their arguments in a discourse of regional differentiation; they differentiated between regions they characterized as progressive and others they perceived as backward.10 By the mid-nineteenth century, Colombians (as well as foreign observers in Colombia) generally seemed to have accepted as “common sense” that Antioquia was more prosperous and progressive than backward Cauca.11 This assumption was clearly predicated on racial hierarchy, even though sources do not always refer explicitly to race.12 Nineteenth-century Colombians ascribed certain cultural, physical, and moral characteristics (both positive and negative) as inherent to specific groups within the nation. They associated backwardness with Indianness and blackness and they associated progress with European background and whiteness.

In order to understand how these processes played themselves out “on the ground,” I trace Caucano participation in the founding of several new Antioqueño settlements in Cauca, and then go on to focus on an area that already had a considerable poor rural population of people of indigenous, African, and mixed origin—the municipio, or district, of Riosucio, in the present-day administrative department of Caldas.13 The cultural and demographic transformation of northeastern Cauca culminated in 1905, when the national government created Caldas out of territories taken from Cauca, Antioquia, and (in 1907) Tolima. The boundaries of the new department roughly corresponded to “greater Antioquia,” which was also becoming known as “the coffee region” (la región cafetera or el eje cafetero). Colombians know Caldas as a “white” department founded and populated by Antioqueño pioneers. Popular and even scholarly literature has tended to portray Caldas as the offspring, or hijo, of Antioquia. The historical experiences of Riosucio suggest otherwise; Caucanos and Antioqueños collaborated to create the region in the image of Antioquia. Before turning to specific local examples, however, I provide an overview of Antioquia and Cauca in the mid–nineteenth century, a time when regional and political identities were solidifying.14

“Polar Opposites”: Antioquia versus Cauca

Colombia is often referred to as “a country of regions.”15 During the federal period (1857-85) Colombia was arguably not really a nation-state at all, but a loose federation of “sovereign states” known colloquially as países. Each had its own army, currency, passport, postal service, and constitutional government.16 By far the largest state in territory was Cauca, which included the Pacific coast from the Ecuador border to Panama, as well as part of the Atlantic coast and the southern Amazonian frontier. Northeast of Cauca was the smaller and more densely populated state of Antioquia.

Conflicts between partisan factions racked the federation. They fought electorally and militarily for control over local, state, and federal governments. A Liberal-Conservative split was evident by midcentury. By the second half of the nineteenth century. Conservatives came to dominate state politics in Antioquia.17 In Cauca, meanwhile, Liberals were deeply divided among themselves, but they did succeed in relegating the Conservatives to the margins of state politics during the third quarter of the century.18 As Conservative and Liberal factions strengthened their control over their respective state governments, their partisan conflicts increasingly took the form of civil wars between opposing states.

Economically and socially, these regional rivals shared some common characteristics. The populations of both Antioquia and Cauca had descended from a mix of Spanish immigrants, African slaves, indigenous populations, and a smattering of other Europeans and Asians. Gold-mining was important in both economies. There were also notable differences. Cauca boasted coastal ports and expanses of fertile lowlands suitable for plantation agriculture, especially in the zone north of the capital of Popayán, around the city of Cali, where the Cauca river valley opened up into a broad plain known simply as the Cauca valley (the present-day administrative department of El Valle).19 Planters and mine owners continued to depend significantly on slave labor until the mid-nineteenth century. Most of Antioquia’s slaves, on the other hand, had obtained manumission by the end of the colonial period.20 Large estates and landholding indigenous communities remained central to the nineteenth-century economy and society of Cauca, while late-colonial landowners in Antioquia allowed some estates to be broken up and distributed among their growing population of landless poor.21 In the early republican period, Antioquia also broke up most remaining indigenous communal landholdings (known in Colombia as resguardos) and converted their lands into marketable commodities.22

Large landholdings were not eliminated in Antioquia, but trade and mining provided major sources of income. Antioqueño merchants developed commercial networks that linked scattered mining and agricultural settlements via treacherous mule paths. Wealthy Antioqueños became the preeminent financiers, merchants, and investors of the new Republic. Starting in the 188os, first large and then small farmers started planting coffee, the marketing of which proved lucrative for Antíoqueño traders.23

Over the course of the century, the merchant capitalist elite of Antioquia increasingly embraced the proclerical Conservative party. Research has shown that, while a significant Liberal presence endured, Conservative politicians and clergymen consolidated a substantial degree of political control over Antioquia.24 Politicians’ authority apparently rested in part on their ability to tap into and foster a sense of regional allegiance that transcended internal divisions of class, race, and local origin.25 Rather than denigrate the common people, Conservative political and religious leaders validated manual labor as honorable and embraced aspects of Antioqueño rural popular culture. The rough clothing of the rural working man (farmer, miner, or muleteer) became a regional masculine costume (see cover photo).26 By sometimes wearing such clothing themselves, more prosperous men expressed a sense of regional pride and shared masculine identity that linked the identities of urban elites to the countryside. One foreign observer noted that when the wealthiest inhabitants of Medellín traveled outside the city, they donned the clothes of their rural paisanos; the rich travelers were distinguishable from the barefoot campesinos only by their shoes.27

Politicians and priests emphasized the importance of legitimately constituted patriarchal families, piety, industry, commerce, social order, and Conservative politics. The Catholic hierarchy oversaw education and set up a series of lay institutions that wove men and women, hoys and girls, rich and poor into the social and political fabric, while reinforcing gender and social hierarchy.28 Where consent failed, the government applied coercion.29 A vagrancy code punished sexually deviant behavior (such as prostitution and cohabitation) as well as unemployment, thus providing a tool for repressing those who did not conform to Catholic prescriptions and uphold a commercially oriented economy.30

Cauca’s elites, meanwhile, were not as successful in constituting Cauca as a cohesive entity or in fostering a sense of cross-class regional affiliation. Cauca suffered economic decline in the nineteenth century and the elites were politically divided. Patrician leaders based in Popayán and the Cauca valley found it difficult to control an extensive territory inhabited by a scattered population divided by class, racial identity, political allegiance, locality, and ethnicity. In the southern highlands, indigenous Andean communities spoke their own languages, retained their communal governing structures, and mobilized in defense of communal interests.31 In the area in and around Riosucio in northeastern Cauca, Spanish-speaking indigenous communities also maintained common landholdings and communal governing institutions. Racial and political divisions in Cauca were pronounced and sometimes violent, as was the case when Liberal artisans, slaves, and ex-slaves fought against Conservative landowners in the Cauca valley in the 1850s.32 The rebellious populace incurred the ire and disdain of upper-class Caucanos and foreign travelers.

By midcentury, Colombian and foreign writers—including novelists, geographers, and travelers—were emphasizing the differences between Cauca and Antioquia. Such accounts compared Caucanos, especially the lowland Afro-Caucanos of the Cauca river valley, negatively with Antioqueños. By the 1850s, Bogotá resident (and Cauca native) Manuel Pombo was explicidy likening Andoqueños to “Yankees.”33 Swiss immigrant Carlos de Greiff lauded “the industriousness that distinguishes them . . . and their natural propensity for material improvements and for the march of progress.”34 Meanwhile, negative images of Caucanos prevailed. Elite and foreign writers blamed Cauca’s economic woes on a population they perceived as lazy and tumultuous. In the 1880s, Santiago Eder, a United States consul and landowner in Cauca, joked that the Cauca valley was a paradise populated by Satan with people so awful that they were not tolerated even in Hell.35 His contemporary, the priest Federico Cornelio Aguilar, described the same valley as a Garden of Eden converted into a hell by partisan violence.36 Geographic determinism also infused nineteenth-century writings, which characterized the torrid and fertile lowlands as conducive to laziness and lasciviousness, while portraying the highlands of Antioquia as imparting a strong constitution to rugged and independent inhahitants.37

Assumptions about gender and race were evident in this emerging discourse of regional differentiation. Central to both Colombian and foreign portrayals of orderly and moral Antioqueño society was a positive image of the patriarchal family. Pombo wrote detailed descriptions of domestic bliss among Antioqueño friends and quoted Antioqueño writer Juan de Dios Restrepo, who attributed the Antioqueños’ overall “morality” to the family: “the morality of their customs is due also to their passion for family life and to how popular marriage is among them.”38 An important component of this image was the idealized Antioqueña wife and mother, an ideal that combined physical and moral strength with submission to male authority. As early as the 1820s, French engineer Jean Boussingault mentioned that Antioqueña women were reputed to be virtuous wives. In the 1860s another Frenchman, Charles Saffray, attested to the Antioqueñas’ virtue.39 German visitors in the 1880s and 1890s reiterated the argument that the relative peace and order of Antioqueño society stemmed from the strength of the family, which they contrasted explicitly with the norm in Cauca. As traveler Friedrich von Schenck concluded in 1880, “in reference to family life, the Cancano must be seen as the polar opposite of the Antioqueño.”40

Manuel Pombo’s midcentury memoir juxtaposed idyllic and orderly Antioqueño family life with images of unbridled and violent sexuality among black inhabitants of the Cauca valley. He described a seductive dance between an Afro-Caucano woman and man. The dance was interrupted when “another black broke the circle that surrounded the dancers and, agile as a tiger, reached the mulatta in one leap and stuck a knife through her heart.”41 Such animalistic imagery of sexuality, even when romanticized, reflected assumptions about the inherent superiority of Europeans and people of European descent. Writers emphasized the European-like (or Yankee-like) qualities of the Antioqueños by contrasting them with an Other that was usually represented as Afro-Colombian, sometimes Indian.42 Antioqueños were supposed to be everything that the Indians and Afro-Caucanos ostensibly were not: industrious, orderly, sexually respectable, and astute. Antioqueños controlled their “animal” passions; respectable Antioquia women ideally submerged their sexuality in religion and motherhood, supplemented by productive and commercial activities that further fortified the Catholic family.43

Over the course of the nineteenth century, writers increasingly described Antioqueños as not only acting like Europeans or Yankees, but as looking like them as well. As early as the 1820s, Carl Gosselman praised the pale skin and rosy cheeks of Antioqueño highlanders; but he also noted the varied complexions of the diverse population of Antioquia.44 Late-nineteenth-century writers tended to homogenize the Antioqueño population and described most or all Antioqueños as light-skinned and predominantly European in origin.45 By the early twentieth century, as eugenics became increasingly influential, Colombian writers of fiction and of racial and social theory commonly referred to Antioqueños explicitly as white.46

The racialized Antioquia-versus-Cauca dichotomy was further reinforced by the racial dynamics of partisan political affiliation in Colombia. Indigenous communities in Cauca formed alliances with various politicians and joined Conservative and Liberal forces, but Afro-Caucanos widely (though not by any means exclusively) identified as Liberal. Afro-Caucanos participated heavily in Liberal armies, providing important military and electoral support for Caucano caudillos such as Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera.47 As a result, Antioqueños discursively “blackened” all of Cauca. For example, when Cauca Liberals took over state and local governments in Antioquia following a Liberal victory in the brutal interregional civil war of 1876-77, Antioqueño Conservatives referred to all of the soldiers and administrators of the occupation force—regardless of variations in phenotype—as los negros del Cauca.48 The whitening of Antioquia implied the blackening of Cauca.

While Antioqueños endured this humiliating occupation, Cancanos were experiencing an invasion of another sort. Since the 1840s, Antioqueños had been migrating out of their densely populated state across the border into Cauca. They initially settled in the highlands of northeastern Cauca, where the broad Cauca river valley narrowed into a gorge hemmed in closely on both sides by the mountains of the western and central cordilleras. They set up farms and ranches in the mountains on the eastern and western sides of the river, on public unclaimed lands, and on lands claimed by either indigenous communities or heirs of colonial-era mining concessionaires (or both). But the Antioqueños did not carry on this process alone. To mediate with prior claimants and to gain official recognition of their settlements, the Antioqueño migrants needed the assistance of intermediaries—educated Caucanos with legal expertise and political connections.

Cauca “Land Entrepreneurs”

Many educated Caucanos with political connections and entrepreneurial aspirations helped facilitate Antioqueño settlement in indigenous resguardos and public lands in Cauca. One tireless Cancano promoter of Antioqueño migration was Ramón E. Palau. His long career is worth examining in detail because he was deeply involved in promoting Antioqueño migration throughout northeastern Cauca and was especially active in Riosucio. He was one of the most vocal visionaries of regional transformation. Born in the Cauca valley and active in Popayán political circles, his life actually followed the Antioqueño migration in reverse. As a young man, he helped new settlements in northeastern Cauca gain legal recognition and land grants. In middle age he moved to the town of Riosucio on the border with Antioquia, where he labored to dismember indigenous landholdings and settle Antioqueños therein. A decade later he moved on to Medellin, the capital of Antioquia, where he lived out his final years. He died in the heart of Antioquia proper—the town of Envigado, near Medellín—in 1914.49

Like other nineteenth-century educated Caucanos, Palau sought to make his fortune in the context of a constricted regional economy and unstable political environment. Palau and others like him worked through patron-client and family networks in their efforts to advance economically. He used his literacy and legal expertise to build client bases while also attaching himself as the client of a more powerful caudillo, Mosquera. Palau and other midlevel politicians mobilized their client bases electorally in support of their patrons’ causes. And when his clients elected him to political office, Palau was able to gain access to government revenues in a milieu in which political and economic advancement were often linked.

Palau epitomized what LeGrand refers to as the Colombian “land entrepreneur,” someone who used political connections to gain access to land and who profited from promoting frontier settlement.50 Palau got his start as an advocate of Antioqueño settlement during the late 1850s and 1860s, when he was a young lawyer and an aspiring politician in Mosquera’s camp. In frequent correspondence with his patron, Palau advocated, among other causes, increased Antioqueño migration into Cauca. In 1858, for example, he toured some new Antioqueño settlements and found himself impressed by “the growing and promising prosperity of . . . these new settlements and the constant and numerous immigration.”51

Many of Palau’s political activities and economic ventures involved Antioqueños. Mosquera appointed Palau as provincial governor of a (short-lived) territorial subdivision that included a new Antioqueño settlement, Santa Rosa. In 1860 Palau received a concession from the state government to maintain the trail over the Quindío pass of the central cordillera, an important path that would later facilitate Antioqueño migration into the Quindío valley. This concession also introduced Palau to the business of real estate speculation; he received a grant of 320 hectares of public lands in the same area in 1868.52

The history of the new settlements in Cauca underscores the importance of Cancano intermediaries such as Palau in facilitating Antioqueño settlement and the positive reception Antioqueños received on the part of Cauca law-makers. The first permanent Antioqueño settlement in Cauca was Santa Rosa, founded in 1843 on public lands in the central cordillera on a narrow strip of Cauca territory on the eastern side (banda oriental) of the Cauca River.53 In 1863, Caucano officials and migrants from Santa Rosa and Antioquia founded another town on the ruins of an old colonial settlement to the southwest of Santa Rosa. They named it Pereira, in honor of the Cauca family that had donated the lands initially allotted for the town. Pereira swelled with Antioqueño migrants during the 1870s.54

The founding of Pereira provides an example of the active participation of Palau and other Caucano land entrepreneurs in the Antioqueño settlement of Cauca. Francisco Pereira Martínez, a Cauca lawyer with political ties to the Cauca state government, made an advantageous purchase of public lands with the express intent of founding a town.55 His heirs were important Cauca politicians and active promoters of Antioqueño migration. His son Guillermo Pereira Gamba, who made the initial donation to the migrants, obtained government concessions in the 1860s to build mule trails connecting Antioqueño settlements. When Pereira Gamba balked at pressure from the vecinos of Pereira to cede additional lands for cultivation, they turned for help to Ramón Palau.56

Palau used his legal skills and political connections to help new settlements obtain land. Most notably, in 1869 he convinced the state legislature to pass a law granting a total of 12,000 hectares in public lands to several new villages in the banda oriental. He wrote letters on behalf of Santa Rosa and Pereira settlers and helped Pereira win a land concession from the Cauca legislature in 1871.57 Palau benefited economically by mediating such deals; cash-poor settlers of such towns typically paid their lawyers in land. The examples of Pereira and Santa Rosa demonstrate how land entrepreneurs stood to benefit in concrete ways from Antioqueño migration. Their advocacy of Antioqueño migration as the best hope for Cauca’s future was no doubt influenced by the personal gains they stood to make by participating in the process.

Lawmakers in Popayán also proved amenable to Antioqueño settlement. In 1855 the legislature awarded special privileges to Antioqueño homesteaders in various new villages in Cauca.58 Palau lobbied with considerable success for laws benefiting specific communities such as Pereira and Santa Rosa, and he also helped obtain legislation that would favor Antioqueño settlement more generally. An 1873 state law allowed contractors to recruit settler families and individual laborers from outside the state.59 In 1883 some state legislators even proposed setting aside public lands to attract European immigrants. They cited the advances that Argentina had made as a result of European immigration. As a last resort, Cauca would accept “some hardworking families” from neighboring states, such as Antioquia.60 Though ultimately unsuccessful, this legislative proposal reflects the extent to which some lawmakers saw Antioqueño migration as the next best thing to European immigration.

By the early 1870s, Palau—who by this time had been elected to the Cauca legislature—successfully sponsored legislation to divide up and privatize indigenous resguardos.61 Palau and other sponsors aimed this legislation at the indigenous holdings in and around the districts of Riosucio and Supía in northeastern Cauca, where they intended to replace communal landholdings with private Antioqueño farms.62

The history of Antioqueño migration in the heavily indigenous mining areas on the western side of the Cauca River is less studied than the better-known cases of the new settlements such as Santa Rosa and Pereira on the eastern side of the river, discussed above. The heavily indigenous district of Riosucio—as well as surrounding districts including Supía, Marmato, Anserma, Guática, and Quinchía—has been largely overlooked in much of the scholarly and popular literature, perhaps because it never conformed even superficially to the classic model of new white Antioqueño settlements.63

Local vecinos of Spanish and mixed origin in the town center had long complained that Indians monopolized much of the land best suited for agriculture and pasture.64 As of the mid-nineteenth century, several indigenous communities in and around the district of Riosucio continued to possess communal lands. They traced their ownership back to an inspection (visita) carried out by a colonial official in 1627. The existence of privately held estates, mines, and salt works within the resguardos complicated the situation.

When a constitution for the state of Cauca was being drawn up in 1857, vecinos from Riosucio and surrounding towns lobbied the Constituent Assembly in the hopes of disbanding and privatizing the indigenous landholdings. Petitioners made use of the discourse of regional differentiation that attributed certain desirable qualities to Antioqueños. According to one petition from Riosucio, if the indigenous resguardos were privatized, then “our neighbors, the Andoqueños, essentially hardworking, vigorous, and active, oppressed in their country by the excess population and scarcity of free lands to cultivate, would come rapidly to our soil to enjoy the many advantages provided by a virgin and fertile land.”65 petitioners characterized lands utilized by indigenous communities since at least 1627 as “virgin,” reflecting assumptions that subsistence agriculture practiced by indigenous communities was not “work.” Dismissing the Indians as lazy, and indigenous land claims as illegitimate, the same petition went on to ask rhetorically: “Would it not be more in accord with justice, reason, and economic principles that these terrains without legitimate or known owner be given to industrious and laboring classes, rather than be allowed to remain the doubtful patrimony of those who have an aversion to work?”66

The writers apparently assumed that state legislators would view Antioqueño migration as beneficial and indigenous communities as backward. Cauca’s political leaders may have agreed, but they were also concerned with social stability.67 Southern Cauca indigenous communities had mounted active opposition to privatization.68 So while other states continued to dissolve remaining indigenous communities, Cauca passed Law 90 of 1859, which protected the integrity of indigenous landholdings and prohibited indigenous communal authorities or individuals from selling portions of their land.69

By 1850, however, some Antioqueño settlers were already crossing the state border into adjacent indigenous resguardos in the western cordillera.70 They either rented lands from the indigenous cabildos, which was permitted under Law 90, or they squatted. They were assisted by men such as Santiago Silva, a local Conservative political boss and legal expert in Riosucio.71 The indigenous cabildo of the community of La Montaña had hired Silva (whose son-in-law was Miguel Antonio Palau, Ramón’s Conservative brother) to represent their interests.72 He used this position to help Antioqueños settle in La Montaña. One Antioqueño village in La Montaña, known as El Oro (or Oraida) was even recognized by the state government.73 Yet its inhabitants could not legalize their possession of farmland and pasture. Such was the ambiguous state of affairs until the early 1870s, when Ramón Palau arrived in Riosucio.


In the early 1870s, Ramón Palau set his political and economic sights—and his marital sights as well—on Riosucio. He must have perceived Riosucio as a fertile terrain for cultivating his frustrated political ambitions. In 1871 he had lost an election for the legislature.74 Having suffered one defeat, he then discovered the key to both electoral success and personal enrichment in Riosucio. Following the lead of his relative Santiago Silva, Palau started working for the indigenous cabildos. In 1872 Palau signed separate contracts with the authorities of two neighboring communities, Supía-Cañamomo and Quinchía, to help them obtain the official colonial titles to their resguardos, which had been lost.75 In 1880 he cemented his ties to Riosucio by marrying one of his associates in a local mining venture. She was Purificación Ortiz, heir to various mining shares and indigenous land rights that her father, retired colonel Felipe Ortiz, had accumulated since the 1850s.76

Soon after signing the contracts with the indigenous cabildos, Palau was elected to the state legislature in Popayán, where he sponsored legislation to partition the very resguardos he had been contracted to protect. The indígenas of Quinchía then complained that he had tricked them. They claimed to have paid him with an estate that included a salt mine as well as some other properties in lieu of his honorarium of 200 pesos. They also maintained that they had paid him to “take our resguardo documents to the legislature for their approval,” but were horrified when “he returned them along with the law of partition (repartimiento), and he sold the salt mine to señor Santiago Silva, for more than a thousand pesos.”77 Palau was cheating his own clients. During the 1870s, in addition to supporting laws that promoted migration, Palau led a legislative assault on indigenous landholdings.

In 1873 Palau made a long statement in the Cauca legislature in favor of partitioning the resguardos around Riosucio. He argued that federal constitutional guarantees of private property rights mandated the privatization of communal landholdings. He also linked modernization, citizenship, and republicanism to private property, which he associated with Antioqueños. The great mineral wealth of the resguardos around Riosucio, Palau claimed, would attract the industrious “hijos de Antioquia,” who would establish family homesteads and private mining establishments.78

The resulting legislation, Cauca Law 44 of October 1873, “on the administration and division of the indigenous resguardos,” mandated the creation of a padrón, or census, of each community.79 With the agreement of a majority of the male community members, each cabildo would hire surveyors who would then proceed to partition its resguardo, set aside 50 hectares for the village and a school, and divide the rest into individual land parcels. In the mean-time, the law provided that until such a partition could be implemented, the individual Indians, male or female, could sell their birthrights as “shares” (acciones) even before their individual plots were titled, regardless of whether or not their communities carried out a formal partition.

Indigenous communities around Riosucio, the primary targets of Law 44, immediately suffered its effects. Several communities ceded considerable portions of their land. In October 1874, for example, a vecino named Juan Gregorio Trejo, acting as legal representative of the indigenous cabildo of Supía-Cañamomo, signed a contract with the authorities of the towns of Supía and Marmato whereby one-third of the resguardo territory was ceded to the vecinos of Supía and another third to those of Marmato.80 In addition, the agreement recognized the holdings of private gold- and salt-mining establishments, estates, and an Afro-Colombian village within the resguardo. Trejo agreed to sell a total of 150 hectares to several of the mining establishments, the proceeds from which were to pay legal costs. In December 1874 the neighboring community of La Montaña, represented by Santiago Silva, ceded more than a quarter of its resguardo to non-Indian vecinos in the neighboring village of Quiebralomo, in an agreement that was formalized the following year.81 In 1876 the cabildo of the indigenous community of Quinchía also ceded a portion of its territory to the district of Quinchía.82 Through these contracts, townspeople in old mining settlements gained title to lands that they had coveted since the colonial period.

Law 44 mandated that the communities not only draw up censuses of members and survey lots, but also absorb the costs involved. With the exception of the tightly-knit community of San Lorenzo, which apparently met most of its legal costs through land rentals and communal industries, the cabildos of the indigenous communities in and around the district of Riosucio paid their surveying and other legal costs with land.83 flood of land sales ensued as cabildos alienated portions of their territories and as individual community members started selling off their own shares as well.

Cauca Law 44 of 1873 thus gave rise to a real estate market in Riosucio and the other northern districts where almost none had previously existed.84 Although Cauca Law 41 of 1879 rescinded the 1873 law and reinstated some protective safeguards, it also mandated that the division of the resguardos continue.85 Even after the indigenous resguardos were awarded greater legal protection by national legislation in 1890, the market in lands and mining shares previously alienated from the communities continued to flourish.86

Most buyers of resguardo lands were Cancanos (many of whom had recently migrated to the Riosucio area, underscoring the fact that Antioqueños were not the only Colombians who were on the move during the nineteenth century). Others included Antioqueño migrants and Europeans who had come to work as technicians in an English-owned gold-mining enclave in nearby Marmato.87 Some, such as surveyor William “Guillermo” Martin, were able to gain significant landholdings in the resguardos in payment for their technical services. Others obtained scattered landholdings in payment for legal services. When lands were rendered as payment, often the lawyer or surveyor was able to choose whichever lot he preferred within the resguardo. This practice sparked conflicts with community members who cultivated the coveted lands. For example, in the community of Supía-Cañamomo, lawyers manipulated the census rolls egregiously, with the evident complicity of poor local vecinos, the indigenous cabildo, and the jefe municipal of Riosucio, who by 1874 was none other than Ramón Palau.88

Certain geographical patterns of resource transferal and settlement emerged.89 Initially, lands and mineral deposits at lower and intermediate altitudes were acquired by land-hungry local vecinos (many of whom were already squatting there), mining investors, and other Cancanos and foreigners who bought or received scattered plots that they consolidated into estates or sold to settlers. This pattern predominated in the resguardo of Supía-Cañamomo, for example. Supía-Cañamomo stretched from the lower eastern edge of the town of Riosucio (at about 1,900 meters above sea level) downward and eastward to the valley floor of the Supía River, and on toward the Cauca River. The resguardo contained salt-water springs as well as gold and other minerals. Its varied warm and midrange altitudes were highly suitable for crops that could he grown on small plots with low capital input and marketed domestically—crops such as maize, sugarcane, tobacco, cacao, plantains, beans, fruits, and, later, coffee for export. Some higher areas within the resguardo were mainly of interest for their timber, which was needed to fuel furnaces in the mining establishments. Only with the advent of coffee during the late 1880S and 1890s did the temperate slopes (between about 500 and 2,000 meters above sea level) attract a significant flow of Antioqueño migrants.90

Initially, Antioqueños preferred the sparsely inhabited resguardo highlands (with altitudes ranging upward from about 2,000 meters), where they had established a foothold by 1850. With the passage of Law 44, Antioqueño settlers legalized what by then were middle-sized holdings (the average size of Antioqueño landholdings surveyed in the tierra fría of La Montaña in 1875-76 was about 40 hectares).91 Antioqueños did take over the cabeceras of some nearby districts, such as the depleted town center of Anserma, but by and large they initially avoided settling in large numbers within Cauca towns such as Riosucio, Supía, and Marmato until the twentieth century. They often avoided the more populated areas of the indigenous resguardos as well. While nominally under the administrative authority of Cauca cabecera towns, where they often marketed and attended mass, the Antioqueños maintained their strongest kinship and personal ties with each other and with their towns of origin in Antioquia. In the highland tierra fría, Antioqueños planted mainly maize and beans, specialized in livestock and dairy products, identified as Conservatives, and recreated their own society.92

Even in the earliest Antioqueño settlements in the district of Riosucio, Cancano mediation was key. When the Antioqueños in La Montaña paid the indigenous cabildo for their legalized plots, the man collecting the money was Santiago Silva. Silva was at that time employed by the cabildo of La Montaña as the administrator of its resguardo.93 Over the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, intermediaries would engage in practices similar to those of Silva and Palau in the indigenous communities. The brokers included land entrepreneurs of Caucano origin, such as various members of the extended Palau family as well as Eustaquio Tascón, Erancisco Tascón, and Lorenzo Villa, to name a few. Some Antioqueño land entrepreneurs, such as Rudecindo Ospina and Pedro Orozco, were also active in the area. Notably, while the nineteenth-century dismemberment of Latin American indigenous communities is often attributed to Liberals, some of these men, such as Santiago Silva, Miguel Antonio Palau, and Miguel Antonio’s son Marco Tulio Palau, were active Conservatives. Politicians in all factions favored progress. In addition, they sought to benefit from building client bases among Indians, settlers, and squatters, who would provide electoral support (and in times of civil war, military support as well) in exchange for legal services, access to land, and mediation with higher authorities. Finally, indigenous authorities, such as Vicente and Nicolás Largo of La Montaña, also participated in facilitating the alienation of their communal resources.94

Like their non-Indian neighbors, indigenous authorities had multiple and complex reasons for cooperating in the alienation of their own resources. The complexities of indigenous economic and political involvement in dubious patron-client relationships with non-Indians are beyond the scope of this article. But one aspect of their participation in the processes of resguardo dismemberment and Antioqueño settlement deserves mention here: the pervasiveness of the discourse that associated Antioqueños with progress. Though we have few if any unmediated sources that provide direct insight into the motivation of nineteenth-century indigenous leaders, we have no reason to assume that they were impervious to “common-sense” understandings of Antioqueño settlement as progressive. Indigenous leaders did occasionally complain of the depredations of land speculators and settlers, but their actions often appeared contradictory.95 Officers of the cabildo of La Montaña, for example, were among the signatories to the 1857 Riosucio petition that lauded Antioqueño settlers as industrious and derided Indians as averse to labor. In 1899 the cabildo of La Montaña recognized a new highland Antioqueño settlement in its resguardo, known as El Rosario, founded by Cancano land purchaser Rafael Tascón.96 According to its notarized official minutes, the cabildo agreed that El Rosario would benefit the community economically. (Actually, it served to increase the monetary value of their lands and thus led to the alienation of yet more communal territory.)97

As for Ramón Palau, the final years of his reign were marred by controversy. He was the target of a local Conservative uprising and briefly run out of town. His political opponents attacked him in the pages of the local Riosucio newspaper, El Iris, for his corrupt land dealings. Yet even those who criticized his tactics shared his vision of modernizing northeastern Cauca through Antioqueño migration. The editors of El Iris were careful to defend Antioqueño migrants as “hardworking and honest by innate virtue” and blamed not Antioqueños, but rather “Caucano malefactors,” for nefarious land deals.98El Iris editorialized that “the impulse given by the immigrations is incalculable, with them come commerce, mining, agriculture, arts, and sciences. They come accompanied by every class of progress.”99El Iris’s positive portrayal of progressive Antioqueños contrasted with its vilification of the local backward indígenas and their land “monopolies.”100 Contributors to the newspaper also criticized the “decrepit” and ostensibly violence-prone Afro-Colombian inhabitants of the nearby town of Marmato.101

Similar contrasts were repeated at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth in the official reports of local and visiting government officials who perceived a disparity between Riosucio’s great potential and its lamentable poverty. Prosperity was stymied by the “monopoly” enjoyed by the indigenous communities. The resguardos were “a true Great Wall” (una verdadera muralla china) that enclosed the town centers and “asphyxiated” commerce, leaving Riosucio in a “colonial” state of backwardness.102 The writers repeated a familiar litany of complaints: the indígenas owned vast expanses of lands that they refused to cultivate sufficiently, preferring to live in poverty while also refusing to allow more productive (read: Antioqueño) people to settle on their lands.

Francisco Trejos, a local Riosucio official, described Riosucio’s diverse population in a 1906 published report on local land disputes. He lauded Antioqueño migrants for civilizing a wild and savage territory. He described them as “that army of men, who like excavators of progress, armed with the axe, have seized, scaled, and have taken over by force the ancient dominions of the jaguar, indisputable chief of the tropical jungles, to convert them into beautiful farms that will be the future of this province.”103 The indígenas who shared this domain with the jaguar were, in Trejos’s eyes, obstacles to the progress heralded by the Antioqueños. He complained that the indigenous authorities—who by this time had become increasingly active in making use of the judicial system and new national protective legislation to defend their land rights—were monopolizing natural resources and tying up the local courts in litigation over land.

Trejos’s report also illustrates how, by the early twentieth century, “scientific” notions about race were becoming increasingly evident in Colombian discourse of regional differentiation and progress. His official report on the problems facing local government was based on an analysis of local society in which he classified groups of different ethnic and regional origin as discrete races. Trejos compared the raza indígena to the raza antioqueña. To each he ascribed a specific set of inherent traits. The indigenous race was lazy, selfish, poor, and alcoholic; the indígenas monopolized the district’s lands and mineral resources. The Antioqueño race, not surprisingly, was “known everywhere for its love of labor [and] enterprising nature.”104

Trejos seemed almost defensive in his staunch support of the Antioqueños, perhaps in response to a growing ambivalence toward Antioqueños on the part of some of his Riosucio neighbors and other old-time inhabitants of Cauca. By the late 1880s, local and regional authorities in Cauca were increasingly expressing their disillusion with the Antioqueño migrants, as evidenced by an 1887 legislative attempt to regulate Antioqueño exploitation of public lands and resguardos.105 Complaints surfaced about “vagrants” and “fugitives” migrating from Antioquia.106 The civil war of 1885, when Conservative Antioqueños defeated Liberal Caucanos, further embittered Caucanos against Antioqueños. And, of course, many Caucanos, ranging from black and Indian villagers to patrician elites, suffered from economic changes—namely, the spread of export agriculture and capitalist competition—that accompanied the Antioqueño transformation of northern Cauca.107 For many leading Riosuceños, moreover, their inclusion in the new department of Caldas in 1905 and their administrative subordination to the new departmental capital of Manizales—a classic highland Antioqueño settlement known for its fair-skinned population—provoked lasting resentments.108

The national government carved the department of Caldas out of Cauca, Tolima, and Antioquia (see map I). Nonetheless, turn-of-the-century politicians and intellectuals in the new administrative capital of Manizales argued that Caldas was an “organic,” or “ethnographic” region unified by a fair and progressive Antioqueño “race.”109 They conveniently ignored other identities in their efforts to constitute Caldas as a legitimate region unified by a homogeneous race, which Manizales was destined to lead. The image of Caldas as the hijo of Antioquia has become the predominant version of Caldas’s regional history. Colombians generally consider Caldas part and parcel of Antioquia la grande.110 Even scholars express surprise to find people who identify as indígenas and blacks living in a region known as white.111

Cancanos participated in important ways in the whitening of Caldas. This article has highlighted the roles of nineteenth-century Cancanos in the creation of the region known as Greater Antioquia, or “the coffee region,” to show that the so-called Antioqueño colonization was not an exclusively Antioqueño endeavor.112 In addition, this article has demonstrated the pervasiveness of a discourse of regional and racial differentiation that associated Antioqueño migrants with social order (premised on patriarchal notions of appropriate gender roles), progress, and whiteness, while associating native-born Cancanos with uncontrolled sexuality, backwardness, blackness, and Indianness. I have shown that the policies and tactics adopted by Cauca legislators, land entrepreneurs, and local vecinos were all conditioned by this discourse. Even when they did not refer explicitly to race as such, their discussions of progress reflected assumptions about indigenous and black inferiority and European and Antioqueño superiority. I have also suggested (though by no means proven) that indigenous inhabitants themselves were among those who were affected by the prevailing racial and regional discourse, to the point that they too associated Antioqueños with progress. Moreover, the discourse of regional differentiation served to reinforce racial disparities in Colombia. The case of Riosucio, in which indigenous communities lost much of their land base, demonstrates some of the problems experienced by sectors of the rural poor that did not conform to the elite’s racialized notions of progress.113 But I also found, as I was researching this article in Riosucio, that indigenous intellectuals have developed nuanced and critical views of the pros and cons of the relentless pursuit of progress. Likewise, some local townspeople in Riosucio and other colonized communities of what was once Cauca have had second thoughts about Antioqueño colonization. The example of multiethnic Riosucio, a town and district named for a “dirty river,” muddies the clean white image of Antioqueño Caldas. By the late twentieth century, as the following epilogue will illustrate, the inhabitants of Riosucio — both the vecinos of the town and the indigenous inhabitants of the rural hinterlands—were increasingly challenging the hegemonic regional image.

Epilogue: “This Was All Antioquia”

While doing research in and around Riosucio from 1993 to 1995, I repeatedly had the same argument with local residents. They would gesture to the surrounding mountains and affirm that prior to the creation of the department of Caldas in the early twentieth century, “this was all Antioquia.” Some black villagers in the neighboring district of Supía—the proud descendants of Cancano slaves—even told me that they had learned this ostensible fact in school. No, I repeatedly insisted, “this was never Antioquia. These districts belonged to Cauca.” I had seen thousands of archival documents that proved my argument, emblazoned with the seal of the estado soberano del Cauca.

The point of telling this story is not to argue that I, the professional foreign historian, was right and my informants were wrong. In a certain sense, they were right, because since the nineteenth century the area around Riosucio has been increasingly incorporated into Antioquia’s trade networks and political and cultural spheres of influence. I argued with the local inhabitants partly because I wanted them to give their white, mestizo, black, and indigenous Caucano ancestors their due. More importantly, I was intrigued by the dissonance between their insistence that “this was all Antioquia” and their explicit awareness, in many cases, that their own local familial and communal histories predated the Antioqueño migration. Black and Indian inhabitants even defined their racial identities as such in opposition to white Antioqueños. Various and contradictory notions of history and identity often coexisted side-by-side in the same communities, sometimes even in the same individuals.

Casual travelers through the verdant coffee-growing mountains of rural Caldas during the 1990s might conclude that Ramón Palau’s dream had come true. His vision of a modern transformation achieved through Antioqueño migration seems, on the surface, to have been realized. In the former indigenous resguardos, export agriculture predominates. Small and middle-sized private farms, as well as some more opulent haciendas belonging to businessmen (including reputed drug traffickers) from Medellín, have replaced most of the communal indigenous “monopolies.” The men who frequent the markets and cafés of the former pueblos indios of Guática and Quinchía proudly dress in regional Antioqueño masculine garb reminiscent of “Juan Valdez,” the famous fictional representative of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation.114 Few people in these districts seem even to remember the indigenous cabildos that once governed them.115 The submergence and even disappearance of collective indigenous identities and institutions, along with the whitening of the official regional history, demonstrates the extent to which the construction of strong, racialized regional identities—such as the “Antioqueño race” or the “Caldense race”—implies the suppression of those identities and institutions that do not conform with the political, cultural, and economic ideals of emerging regional elites.

And yet, alternative versions of what it means to be Riosuceño, Caldense, or even Antioqueño continue to challenge the regional myths. While surrounding communities have disappeared, three (and by some counts four) indigenous communities in the district of Riosucio have preserved or reinvented their institutions, memories, and at least part of their land base. Their leaders have been trying to implement clauses of the 1991 Constitution that guarantee greater political, financial, and cultural autonomy to legally constituted indigenous communities with historically recognized resguardos. The indigenous activists engage in legal disputes and philosophical debates with local and departmental officials, landowners, and intellectuals over boundaries, property rights, local history, and the very meaning of the word indígena.

Side-by-side with “this was all Antioquia,” competing versions of historical memory are thriving. Intellectuals write about Caucano folklore and local history before the Antioqueño “invasion.”116 A nationally prominent intellectual and politician, Riosucio-born senator Otto Morales Benítez, insists on the importance of mestizaje in the history of Caldas.117 He has organized yearly intellectual and cultural conferences to study and debate local culture and history. Riosucio also celebrates its distinctive history and culture every other January in its raucous biennial carnavales. Thus, local townspeople continuously challenge the official regional historical narrative of white Caldas founded exclusively by intrepid Antioqueño pioneers. Indigenous activists in the rural district of Riosucio and black villagers in the districts of Supía and Marmato take this challenge even further, challenging both the regional white myth and the local mestizo version by asserting indigenous and black identities.

These memories are not without contradictions. When indigenous leaders claim that their own communities have “progressed,” in part through colonization and greater market integration, they almost seem trapped within a discourse of progress, whitening, and regional differentiation that has long associated Indianness with backwardness. And yet, they also redefine the terms of the discourse to assert that progress is not the sole possession of whites, that indígenas can also be modern. Likewise, when self-consciously black villagers also refer to themselves as both black and Antioqueño, they expand the geographic and even phenotypic boundaries of the discourse of regional differentiation to include themselves among the “progressive.” The extent to which local people have disputed and re-remembered their historical geography indicates that regional boundaries, like boundaries between races and ethnic groups more generally, are slippery, contested, and contingent.

Eduardo Posada-Carbó, in his monograph about the Colombian Atlantic coast region, suggests that “if nations are identified with ‘imagined communities’, regions are, in contrast, linked to ‘the reality of place’, insofar as they are directly concerned with the lives of men.”118 The reality of regional identities to the men and women who experience them, however, should not blind us to the power struggles out of which regions emerged. Regions, like nations, are power-laden “imagined communities.”119 As such, they exclude as well as include; they are products of historical struggles. As historians of Latin America, our task is to try to understand how historical processes of migration, whitening, struggles over resources, and complex drawing and redrawing of administrative jurisdictional boundaries resulted in regional identities that mean so much to so many people. Scholars have increasingly come to see nations as “imagined” and race and gender as “socially constructed.” And yet, the strong regional identities that have persisted in Latin America remain analytically somewhat elusive. I suspect that region, like race, gender, and ethnicity, is difficult to deconstruct precisely because it is still so central to the lives of so many Latin Americans.

This article is based on research carried out from 1993 to 1995 with funding provided mainly by the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies Joint Committee on Latin America and the Caribbean. I thank Patrick McNamara, Jared Orsi, Jean Quataert, and the HAHR editors and readers for helpful suggestions. My ideas and evidence are further elaborated in my 1997 doctoral thesis from the University of Wisconsin, Madison: “Remembering Riosucio: Race, Region, and Community in Colombia, 1850-1950.” The maps were prepared by Onno Brouwer and the staff of the Cartography Lab of the University of Wisconsin.


On Brazil, Peru, and Mexico, for example, see Barbara Weinstein, “Region over Nation: Race and Regional Identity in the 1932 São Paulo Revolution” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Washington, D.C., 10 Jan. 1999); Judy Bieber, “Race, Resistance, and Regionalism: Perspectives from Brazil and Spanish America” Latin American Research Review 32, no. 3 (1997): 154, 167-68; Benjamin Orlove, “Putting Race in Its Place: Order in Colonial and Postcolonial Peruvian Geography,” Social Research 60, no. 2 (1993); Sarah Chambers, From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender, and Politics in Arequipa, Peru, 1780-1854 (University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, forthcoming); Marisol de la Cadena, “From Race to Class: Insurgent Intellectuals de provincia in Peru, 1910-1970,” in Shining and Other Paths: War and Society in Peru, 1980-1995, ed. Steve J. Stern (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998); and Steve J. Stern, The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1995), esp. 217-27. For other approaches to region, see Claudio Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from the Labyrinth: Culture and Ideology in the Mexican Natimal Space (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1992); and Eric Van Young, ed., Mexico’s Regions: Comparative History and Development (San Diego: Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies, Univ. of California at San Diego, 1992).


Peter Wade, Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1993), 43. My understanding of the spatial organization of racial hierarchy in western Colombia is influenced by the innovative frameworks provided by Wade and by historian Mary Roldán. Wade juxtaposes the white/mestizo Andean core with a periphery constituted by lowland Indian and black regions to argue that coastal blacks have constituted the principal Other against which the non-black majority of whites and mestizos of the highland interior, especially Antioquia, have measured their superiority. His highly useful model does not, however, fully account for racial and ethnic differentiation among inhabitants of the Andean interior. Roldán’s study of Medellín’s historic relationship with frontier areas of Antioquia shows how geographic, cultural, and racial core-periphery dynamics affected twentieth-century political violence. See Roldán, “Violencia, colonización y la geografía de la diferencia cultural en Colombia” Análisis Político 38 (1998), and “Genesis and Evolution of La Violencia in Antioquia, Colombia (1900-1953)” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard Univ., 1992).


Colombia was divided into states from 1857 to 1886. The 1886 Constitution changed the states into administrative departments.


James J. Parsons, Antioqueño Colonization in Western Colombia, rev. ed. (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1968), I.


Some of the best revisionist works include Keith H. Christie, Oligarcas, campesinos y política en Colombia: aspeaos de la historia socio-política de la frontera antioqueña, trans. Fernán González (Bogotá: Univ. Nacional de Colombia, 1986), and “Antioqueño Colonization in Western Colombia: A Reappraisal,” HAHR 58 (1978); and Luisa Fernanda Giraldo Zuluaga, La colonización antioqueña y la fundación de Manizales (Manizales: Biblioteca de Escritores Caldenses, 1983). One recent book that does not reproduce either the dark or light legend is Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización: fundaciones y conflictos agrarios (Gran Caldas y norte del Valle) (Manizales: Gobernación de Caldas, 1994).


Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz, “The Population of Latin America, 1850-1930,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 4, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 139. Regarding whitening in countries with significant foreign immigration, see the essays by Aline Helg and Thomas Skidmore in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940, ed. Richard Graham (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1990); Thomas E. Skidmore, Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought, 2d ed. (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1993); and George Reid Andrews, The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800-1900 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1980), and Blacks and Whites in São Paulo, Brazil, 1888-1988 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1991).


Regarding Colombian efforts to attract foreign immigration, see Catherine LeGrand, Frontier Expansion and Peasant Protest in Colombia, 1850-1936 (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1986), 12, 17. On Venezuela, see Marie Price, “Hands for Coffee: Migrants and Western Venezuela’s Coffee Economy, 1870-1930,” Journal of Historical Geography 20 (1994).


LeGrand, Frontier Expansion, 12.


Frank Safford notes that elite attitudes toward the Afro-Colombian and indigenous poor were founded on a “solid bedrock of racism” that associated progress with European origins, and that “the perceived economic backwardness of the dominated was an important measure of their inferiority”; see his “Race, Integration, and Progress: Elite Attitudes and the Indian in Colombia, 1750-1870,” HAHR 71 (1991): 32.


I use the term discourse” in the sense that Foucault proposed: power operates through discourses to constitute truths and falsities; see Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, ed. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon, 1980), esp. 93, 131-33.


See Antonio Gramsci’s discussion of “common sense” as a “product of history and part of the historical process,” in Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, trans, and eds. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971), 325-26, including n. 5.


Latin American historians of Brazil and elsewhere have argued that racism has not always required explicit references to race. Thomas Skidmore notes that the racial whitening ideology of Brazilian elites was often subtle rather than explicit; see his “Racial Ideas and Social Policy in Brazil, 1870-1940,” in Graham, Idea of Race, 12-13. Barbara Weinstein makes a similar argument and notes that whiteness and modernity have been closely linked; Weinstein, “Region over Nation,” 31-32.


“Districts” refers to what are now municipios, each of which includes a town center of the same name and its surrounding rural hinterland. Throughout the nineteenth century, however, local administrative boundaries and names were constantly shifting. During most of the period covered in this article, Riosucio and surrounding “parish districts” or “municipal districts” each had their own alcalde but were nominally subject to the distant town of Toro in the Cauca valley. All were overseen by the jefe municipal of Toro. The locus of authority shifted over this period from Toro to the more populous Riosucio. Once segregated from Toro in the 1880s, the whole area was called variously the canton of Supía, the province of Riosucio, and the province of Marmato, until its component districts became autonomous municipios during the twentieth century.


Various factors may have contributed to fortifying regional divisions and identities around midcentury, including (but not limited to) the emergence of the Conservative/Liberal split in the 1840s, the consolidation of former cantons and provinces into semiautonomous “sovereign states” during the 1850s, the strengthening of this federal system in the 1863 Rionegro Constitution, slave emancipation in 1851, and civil wars.


On the fragmentation of the early republic, see María Teresa Uribe de Hincapié and Jesús María Alvarez, Poderes y repones: problemas en la constitución de la nación colombiana, 1810-1850 (Medellín: Univ. de Antioquia, 1987), 44-73; and David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1993), 50-100.


Bushnell, Making of Modern Colombia, 74-82.


On the process whereby Conservatives gained control of principal towns and reconfigured the territorial organization of the state of Antioquia in the 1850s in such a way as to consolidate their own authority, see Luis Javier Ortiz Mesa, El federalismo en Antioquia, 1850-1880: aspeaos politicos (Medellín: Univ. Nacional de Colombia, 1985), 14-39.


Alonso Valencia Llano, Estado soberano del Cauca: federalismo y regeneración (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1988), 11-162.


The Cauca valley is best known for sugar production, but tobacco and cattle raising were also important, and the nineteenth century also saw a boom in quinine bark extraction in Cauca. See Richard P. Hyland, “A Fragile Prosperity: Credit and Agrarian Structure in the Cauca Valley, Colombia, 1851-87,” HAHR 61 (1982): 379-85.


Antioquia’s mining economy relied heavily on semiautonomous placer miners known as mazamorreros. See Vicente Restrepo, Estudio sobre las minas de oro y plata en Colombia (Bogotá: Impr. de Silvestre y Compañía, 1888), 74; and Roger Brew, El desarrollo económico de Antioquia desde la Independencia hasta 1820 (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1977), 44-93.


Arm Twinam, Miners, Merchants, and Farmers in Colonial Colombia (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1982), 91-109.


Safford, “Race, Integration, and Progress,” 16; and Uribe de Hincapié and Alvarez, Poderes y regiones, 161-78. On resguardo dissolution in eastern Colombia, see Glenn Curry, “The Disappearance of the Resguardos Indígenas of Cundinamarca, Colombia, 1800-1863” (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt Univ., 1981).


The coffee economy in Antioquia and Greater Antioquia has been well studied. For some overviews, see Brew, Desarrollo económico de Antioquia; Parsons, Antioqueño Colonization; Marco Palacios, Coffee in Colombia, 1850-1970: An Economic, Social, and Political History (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980), 161-97; and Charles W. Bergquist, Labor in Latin America: Comparative Essays on Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1986).


See, for example, Ortiz Mesa, Federalismo en Antioquia, 64-70; and Roldán, “Genesis and Evolution of La Violencia” 120-82.


Uribe de Hincapié and Alvarez, who have produced theoretically nuanced scholarship on Antioquia, suggest that Antioqueños differentiated themselves racially from outsiders. As they note, “los antioqueños se reclamaron siempre como los ‘blancos’ contra los ‘negros’ de Cauca y Bolívar—Estados con los que tuvieron permanentes conflictos económicos y políticos y los ‘indios’ de Bogotá”; Poderes y regiones, 52-53.


This outfit, which includes a straw hat, shoulder bag, folded poncho, and canvas sandals, has been projected abroad as the outfit of “Juan Valdez,” fictional representative of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation.


Friedrich von Schenck, Viajes por Antioquia en el año de 1880 (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1953), 19.


Recent historical research has countered nostalgic myths about nineteenth-century Antioquia society and politics. See, for example, Catalina Reyes Cárdenas, Aspectos de la vida social y cotidiana de Medellín, 1890-1930 (Bogotá: Colcultura, 1996). On clerical power and Catholic organizations, see María Teresa Uribe de Hincapié and Clara Inés García, “La espada de las fronteras,” part 1.3 of the series “Colombia: país de regiones,” published in Medellín and Bogotá by El Colombiano and Centro de Investigaciones y Educación Popular, 23 May 1993, 38; Ordz Mesa, Federalismo en Antioquia, 64-70; Gloria Mercedes Arango, La mentalidad religiosa en Antioquia: prácticas y discursos, 1828-1885 (Medellín: Univ. Nacional de Colombia, 1993), 64-90, 318-19; and Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, “Gender and the Limits of Industrial Discipline: Textile Workers in Medellín, Colombia, 1905-1960” (Ph.D. diss., Duke Univ., 1994).


Roldán argues that consent failed most dramatically in the peripheral areas of Antioquia inhabited by people of African and Indian descent, leading to twentieth-century repression in those areas, while the elites’ “hegemonic project” was more successful in gaining the consent of the governed in the central areas of Antioquia; see Roldán, “Violencia, colonización y la geografía,” 7, 24. Regarding hegemonic state-building and alliances at the local and regional level in Latin America, see Florencia E. Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 1995), esp. 6-7.


Ortiz Mesa, Federalismo en Antioquia, 90-91; and Uribe de Hincapié and Alvarez, Poderes y regiones, 252-61.


On indigenous resistance to resguardo dissolution in Popayán, see Safford, “Race, Integration, and Progress,” 15. On Páez Indians in southern Cauca, see María Teresa Findji and José María Rojas, Territorio, economía y sociedad Páez (Cali: Univ. del Valle, 1985); and Joanne Rappaport, The Politics of Memory: Native Historical Interpretation in the Colombian Andes, 2d ed. (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1998).


Margarita Pacheco, La fiesta liberal en Cali (Cali: Univ. del Valle, 1992), 106-11, 127-41. See also Michael T. Taussig, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1980), 46-69. We will know more about social and political conflict when James Sanders concludes his dissertation at the University of Pittsburgh on popular politics, race, and class in nineteenth-century Cauca.


Manuel Pombo, De Medellín a Bogotá (Bogotá: Biblioteca V Centenario Colcultura, 1992), 115.


Carlos S. de Greiff, cited in Víctor Alvarez, “Visión e imágenes del antioqueño y lo antioqueño: pistas hacia el asunto de la identidad regional (selección y recopilación de textos),” Medellín, 1993, ms.


Quoted in Alonso Valencia Llano, Estado soberano del Cauca, 145.


Ibid., 144-45.


See, for example, Felipe Pérez, Jeografía física i política de los Estados Unidos de Colombia (Bogotá: Impr. de la Nación, 1862), 290-93, 327; and Pombo, De Medellin a Bogotá, 154. See also Taussig, Devil and Commodity Fetishism, 58, and his discussion of “moral topography” in Shaminism., Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Teiror and Healing (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), 253.


Pombo, De Medellín a Bogotá, 67.


Jean Baptiste Boussingault, Memorias, 5 vols. (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1985), 2:139; and Charles Saffray, quoted in Alvarez, “Visión e imágenes.”


Von Schenck, Viajes por Antioquia, 57. Von Schenck was a virulent detractor of Cauca and booster of Antioquia, as were two of his contemporaries. See Ernst Röthlisberger, El Dorado: estampas de viaje y cultura de la Colombia suramericana (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1963), 346-48; and Alfred Hettner, Viajes por los Andes colombianos, 1882-1884 (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1976), 248-52. Regarding representations of the “well-ordered family as the foundation of the well-ordered state,” see Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1988), 47.


Pombo, De Medellín a Bogotá, 154-55. For a similarly vivid and sensual description of Afro-Colombian dances, see costumbrista novels such as Gregorio Sánchez Gómez, La bruja de las minas, cited in Lydia del Carmen Díaz López, “Antropología y economía del oro en Marmato, Caldas” (Tesis de grado, Univ. Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, 1985), 89-90; and Rómulo Cuesta, Tomás (1923; reprint, Manizales: Impr. Departmental, 1982), 161-64. A novel from the 1930s also provides vivid images of Afro-Colomhians and Antioqueños; see Bernardo Arias Trujillo, Risaralda (1935; reprint, Medellin: Bedout, 1971), esp. 31-47, 205-7.


Hettner, for example, saw Antioqueño migrants as responsible for waking up the sleepy frontier “Indian towns” of Cauca and saving them from stagnation. He described the indigenous resguardo town of Quinchía, for example, as a backward “dead-end alley,” the only hope for which would be the increasing presence of Antioqueños; Hettner, Viajes por los Andes, 246-57.


See Virginia Gutiérrez de Pineda, Familia y cultura en Colombia: tipología, funciones y dinámica de la familia; manifestaciones múltiples del mosaico cultural y sus estructuras sociales (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo y Dept. de Sociología, Univ. Nacional de Colombia, 1968), 320-27; and Roldán, “Violencia, colonización y la geografía,” 6.


Carl August Gosselman, Viaje por Colombia: 1825 y 1826 (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1981), 209, 247.


French engineer and explorer “Jorge” Brisson lauded the rosy cheeks and white skin of the Antioqueños, see his “A pie de Cali a Medellín en 1890,” in Las maravillas de Colombia: sorprendentes y poco conocidas, vol. 4: El Chocó. Antioquia y Medellín. El “Viejo Caldas.” El Río Cauca, Cartago y Cali. Popayán, ed. Enrique Congrains Martín (Bogotá: Forja, 1979), 200, 203, also quoted in Alvarez, “Visión e imágenes.” Scholars have shown that over the course of the nineteenth century, Antioqueños managed to whiten and homogenize the collective image and identity of a regional society known in the colonial period for its heterogeneity. See Christie, Oligarcas, campesinos y política, and “Antioqueño Colonization”; Wade, Blackness and Race Mixture; Uribe de Hincapié and Alvarez, Poderes y regiones, 52; and Roldán, “Violencia, colonización y la geografía,” 8, This collective whitening was a cultural process of redefining racial identity that did not necessarily reflect transformation of their phenotype. A considerable diversity of appearance continues to characterize the population of Antioquia.


Medical doctors drew upon European eugenics to argue that Antioqueños constituted a biologically superior “race” due to an ostensible preponderance of the European element in Antioqueños’ biological make-up and to the putative healthiness of the highlands. See Miguel Jiménez López et al., Los problemas de la raza en Colombia (Bogotá: Biblioteca de Cultura, 1920), esp. 4-78, as well as Aline Helg, “Los intelectuales frente a la cuestión racial en el decenio de 1920: Colombia entre México y Argentina,” Estudios Sociales (Medellín) 4 (1989); and Wade, Blackness and Race Mixture, 16-17. For examples of the equation of Antioqueños with whites, see Arias Trujillo, Risaralda, 123, 205-8; and Luis Duque Gómez, “Grupos sanguíneos entre los indígenas del departamento de Caldas,” Revista del Instituto Etnológico Nacional 3 (1944): 623. Other early- and mid-twentieth-century scholars essentialized race and region by correlating ostensible racial make-up with regional cultural traits. See Luis López de Mesa, De cómo se ha formado la nación colombiana (Bogotá: Librería Colombiana, 1934), 48-99; and Gutiérrez de Pineda, Familia y cultura en Colombia.


Albeiro Valencia Llano, Manizales en la dinámica colonizadora, 1846-1930 (Manizales: Univ. de Caldas, 1990), 150-55. Mosquera, scion of a patrician family in Popayán, was adept at forging alliances with both Indians and blacks. He gained considerable electoral and military support among Afro-Caucanos, many of whom found military participation in civil wars to provide a vehicle of social ascent as well as political expression.


Black liberalism dated back at least as far as the end of slavery, when Liberal slaves and former slaves embraced the artisans’ popular wing of liberalism and battled Conservative slaveholders in the Cauca valley. Former slaves and their descendants in Antioquia, like their Cauca counterparts, tended to be Liberals as well, but their numbers were fewer, their confrontations had less of an impact, and they were more easily whitewashed out of the predominant regional mythology. See Uribe de Hincapié and Alvarez, Poderes y regiones, 234. For a fictionalized description of a civil war battle in 1876-77 involving a black Liberal regiment, see Cuesta, Tomás, 52.


The Palau family, which heralded from Cartago in the Cauca valley, was represented in each of Cauca’s partisan factions. Ramón Palau was a Mosquerista Liberal. His eldest brother Emigdio was a Radical Liberal, while another brother, Miguel Antonio, was a Conservative political leader in Riosucio. Over time, all were elected to various political offices as the fortunes of their respective factions rose and fell. Some of Miguel Antonio’s sons also became lawyer/politician/land entrepreneurs in and around Riosucio; Gustavo Arboleda, Diccionario biográfico y genealógico del antiguo departamento del Cauca (Cali: Arboleda, 1926), 480-83.


LeGrand, Frontier Expansion, 35. On land entrepreneurs in Cauca, including references to Palau, see Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos en el estado soberano del Cauca, 1860-1895 (Santiago de Cali: Facultad de Humanidades, Especialización en la Enseñanza de las Ciencias Sociales, Historia de Colombia, 1993), 53-67. On a later land entrepreneur, see Jaime Eduardo Londoño, “Un empresario territorial cancano: Lisandro Caicedo,” Región: Revista del Centro de Estudios Históricos del Suroccidente Colombiano (Cali) 1 (Aug. 1993).


Ramón E. Palau to Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, 3 Mar. 1858, Archivo Central del Cauca, Archivo Mosquera (hereafter ACC Mosquera), carpeta 19-P-1, no. 35.827. See also Palau to Mosquera, 3 Mar. 1858, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 19-P-1, no. 35.827; 9 Mar. 1858, carpeta 19-P-1, no. 35.828; 2 Oct. 1859, carpeta 28-P, no. 36.827; 23 Oct. 1859, carpeta 28-P, no. 36.828; and 1 Oct. 1866, carpeta 43-P, no. 48.973. Palau’s enthusiasm for Antioqueño settlers did not, apparently, extend to rival Antioqueño land entrepreneurs. He fought against efforts to cede Cauca public lands to the González and Salazar company. See Palau to Mosquera, to May 1871, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 24-P, no. 53.146.


On the camino del Quindío, see Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos, 57 n. 12, 105, which mentions that Palau received a personal land grant of 320 hectares in the Quindío valley in 1868 as payment for building the Quindío trail. In 1867 Palau also represented the governor of Cauca in negotiating a peace and commerce treaty between the hostile states of Cauca and Antioquia. See “Documentos relativos al convenio de paz, amistad i comercio. . ..,” Dec. 1867, ACC, Archivo Muerto (hereafter ACC Muerto), paq. 98, leg. 49.


Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización, 145-54. See also Vecinos of Santa Rosa to Legislators, 10 Aug. 1859, ACC Muerto, paq. 74, leg. 51.


Parsons, Antioqueño Colonization, 77-78; Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos, 57 n. 12; and Luis Duque Gómez, Juan Friede, and Jaime Jaramillo Uribe, Historia de Pereira (Pereira: Club Rotario de Pereira, 1963), 351-81.


Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos, 57 n. 1257, 105. On the Pereira family, see Arboleda, Diccimario biográfico, 347-49.


Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos, 159; Palau had been helping those who wanted to found this settlement since the late 1850s; see Palau to Mosquera, 9 Mar. 1858, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 19-P-1, no. 35.828.


Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización, 160.


Cauca Ordinance no. 9, 26 Oct. 1855, transcribed by Alfredo Cardona Tobón in “Documentos históricos de Riosucio,” Registros de Historia (Manizales), no. 6 (July 1990). For example, settlers were temporarily excused from mandatory service in local administrative posts and from paying provincial taxes.


Cauca Law 371, 8 Sept. 1873, “que fomenta la inmigración,” Registro Oficial (Popayán), 13 Sept. 1873, p. 2. The racial assumptions in favor of people of European descent underlying this law are revealed in the clause that prohibited the recruitment of “Chinese and individuals of the Malaysian race” (as well as criminals and people with infectious diseases) from labor migration contracts.


“Proyecto de ley sobre inmigración,” 6 July 1883, ACC Muerto, paq. 164, leg. 49; and relevant comments by Wenceslao Rengifo in Anales de la Legislatura (Popayán), 12 (20 Aug. 1883), 8.


Cauca Law 44, 1 Oct. 1873, “sobre administración y division de los resguardos de indígenas,” Registro Oficial (Popayán), 1 Nov. 1873, pp. 1-2; and Cauca Law 47, 23 Sept. 1875, “sobre administración y división de los resguardos de indígenas,” Registro Oficial, 29 Sept. 1875, pp. 2-3.


Ramón E. Palau to Legislature, 3 Oct. 1874, ACC Muerto, paq. 124, leg. 57; and Emigdio Palau to Deputies, 1875, ACC Muerto, paq. 130, leg. 15. In 1879 several legislators, including Ramón Palau and Carlos Gärtner from Riosucio, went on to propose, unsuccessfully, that the resguardos be forcibly and immediately abolished. See “Proyectos de leyes y decretos que fueron negados por la Legislatura,” 8 Aug. 1879, ACC Muerto, paq. 146, leg. 3.


Recently, however, local and regional scholars and activists have shown increasing interest in the history of the indigenous communities. These studies have contributed enormously to piecing together the fragmented history of struggles over land tenure and ethnic autonomy. See, for example, Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización, 335-61; and Victor Zuluaga Gómez, Documentos inéditos sobre la historia de Caldas, Chocó y Risaralda (Pereira: Univ. Tecnológica de Pereira, 1988), “Resguardo indígena de Cañamomo y Lomaprieta” Supía Histórico, año 6 (Oct. 1993): 594-600, and Vida, pasión y muerte de los indígenas de Caldas y Risaralda (Pereira: Univ. Tecnológica de Pereira, 1994).


Regarding vecinos’ complaints in 1805, see documents excerpted and quoted by Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización, 339-43. The originals may be found in Archivo General de la Nación, Sección Colonia, Fondo Poblaciones del Cauca, vol. 2, fols. 985-1022.


Officials and residents of Riosucio to Constituent Assembly, 27 Aug. 1857, ACC Muerto, paq. 64, leg. 41.


Ibid. See similar requests: Vecinos of Supía to Constituent Assembly, 27 Sept. 1857, and Cabildo Parroquial of Supia to Constituent Assembly, 28 Sept. 1867, both in ACC Muerto, paq. 64, leg. 41; and Vecinos of Riosucio to Legislative Deputies, 13 July 1857, and Employees and Citizens of Ansermavieja to Legislators, 31 July 1859, both in ACC Muerto, paq. 74, leg. 51. Riosucio residents let their affinity for Antioquia be further known in 1860 and 1864, when Conservative leaders, including Ramón Palau’s brother, attempted to annex Riosucio to Antioquia, which was at war with Cauca. See Alfredo Cardona Tobón, “Las guerras civiles en el alto occidente de Caldas,” Supía Histórico, año 5 (Jan. 1989): 97-99; Palau to Mosquera, 9 Mar. 1858, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 19-P-1, no. 35.828; Correspondence between Ramón Rosales and Secretary of the Government of Cauca, June-July 1864, ACC Muerto, paq. 89, leg. 64; “Un decreto de junio 24 de 1864,” Supía Histórico, año 2 (Apr. 1988): 3-4; C. Piedrahita to Secretary of the Government, 26 Dec. 1865, ACC Muerto, paq. 92, leg. 81; and Palau to Mosquera, 10 May 1871, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 24-P, no. 53.146.


See comments by Andrés Cerón, chief executive of Cauca, in Gaceta Oficial (Popayán), 19 Sept. 1869, p. 1022.


Safford, “Race, Integration, and Progress,” 15-17.


Cauca Law 90, 19 Oct. 1859, “sobre proteccion de indíjenas,” [sic] reproduced in part in Código de Leyes i decretos espedidos por la lejislatura del estado en sus sesiones ordinarias . . . (Popayán: Impr. del Estado, 1880), 95-101.


For early references to Antioqueño settlers in the resguardo of La Montaña in Riosucio, see Pablo Molano to Bishop, 25 July 1850, and Manuel Velasco to Bishop, 3 Sept. 1850, both in Archivo del Arzobispado de Popayán, leg. 216, no. 7.


Ramón Palau commented to Mosquera in 1859 that Silva “managed everything” in Riosucio and Supía; Palau to Mosquera, 16 Mar. 1859, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 28-P, no. 36.825. Silva held important local posts such as secretary of the circuit judge. For details on his holdings, see “Partición de los bienes hereditarios del finado Santiago Silva,” 2 Mar. 1882, Registro de Instrumentos Públicos de Riosucio, Sección Riosucio (hereafter RIPR Riosucio), tomo 1882-89, años 1882-83, libro 1, no. 17, fols. 7-11; and “Juicio Guamal ó Benitez,” 1894, Archivo del Juzgado del Circuito Civil de Riosucio.


See the contract between Silva and the indigenous cabildo, registered 31 May 1865, Registro de Instrumentos Públicos de Riosucio, Sección Supía (bereafter RIPR Supía), tomo 1837-88, año 1864, libro 1, no. 14, fol. 6, whereby Silva was hired by the cabildo to help them sell their lands. Ironically, ten years earlier, four indígenas of La Montana hired another legal expert to help them recoup lands usurped from them in El Oro, according to a contract registered 13 Feb. 1855, RIPR Supía, tomo 1837-88, libro 1855, no. 6, fol. 4.


Ordinance no. 5, 30 Sept. 1854, quoted in Alfredo Cardona Tobón, “Las viejas aldeas de Riosucio,” Registros de Historia, no. 6 (July 1990): 11-12. See also Ordinance no. 9, 26 Oct. 1855, transcribed in “Documentos bistóricos de Riosucio,” ibid.


Palau to Mosquera, 10 May 1871, ACC Mosquera, carpeta 24-P, no. 53.146; and Miguel Abadía to Mosquera, 25 Feb. 1872, ibid., carpeta I-A, no. 53.543.


Notarized documents, 4 and 11 Mar. 1872, Notaría de Supía (hereafter NS), tomo 1867-75, libro 1872, fols. 19-23. The community that I refer to as Supía-Cañamomo was known during the colonial period as Cañamomo y Lomaprieta, then during the nineteenth century as Supía y Cañamomo, and now as either Cañamomo y Lomaprieta or Cañamomo-Lomaprieta. It straddles the municipios of Supía and Riosucio.


“Aviso de matrimonio,” Registro Oficial (Popayán), 28 June 1882, p. 4; and will of Felipe Ortiz, 7 Aug. 1877, RIPR Riosucio, tomo 1876-81, fols. 3-4.


Indígenas of Quinchía to President of State of Cauca, 10 June 1875, ACC Muerto, transcribed in Zuluaga Gómez, Documentos inéditos, 118-20. The letter is also reproduced, from Zuluaga’s first published version, in Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización, 352-54.


Anales de la Legislatura (Popayán), 8 Oct. 1873, 189-90. A former circuit court judge in Riosucio expressed similar sentiments in 1875; José Hernández to Deputies, 23 Aug. 1875, ACC Muerto, paq. 130, leg. 15. For a dissenting view expressed by indigenous communities in what was then southern Cauca (now Nariño), see Indígenas of Túquerres, Cumbal, Muellanues, Guachual, Imues, and Potosí to Legislature, 31 July 1877, ACC Muerto, paq. 112, leg. 14. Some legislators were ambivalent; see, for example, Antonio Arquez to Deputies, 9 Aug. 1873, ACC Muerto, paq. 124, leg. 56. Gold, silver, salt, and coal have been mined in Riosucio and adjacent districts.


Cauca Law 44, 17 Oct. 1873, “sobre administración y división de los resguardos de indígenas,” Registro Oficial (Popayán), 1 Nov. 1873, pp. 1-2. It was expanded from the original proposal to include all the indigenous communities in Cauca. In Vida, pasión y muerte, 102, Zuluaga Gómez describes Law 44 as “un festín para los abogados, compañías mineras y traficantes de tierras.”


Notarized document, 10 Oct. 1874, RIPR Supía, no. 53, fols. 29-31. This document includes a list of names of male and female members of the community, proxy signatures inasmuch as these indígenas presumably were illiterate. It is impossible to know how they felt about the document to which their names had been added or whether or under what conditions their consent and full understanding were obtained. The same document is discussed in Zuluaga Gómez, Vida, pasión y muette, 106-8, 111-12, and “Resguardo indígena de Cañamomo y Lomaprieta,” 597-98. See also Albeiro Valencia Llano, Colonización, 350-51.


The text of the 1875 accord is contained in “Solicitud y documentos en el asunto de Quiebralomo,” 13 Dec. 1890, ACC Muerto, paq. 191, leg. 57.


Notarized document, 5 Feb. 1876, RIPR Riosucio, no. 15, fol. 6.


The case of the community of San Lorenzo, a local exception in that it largely avoided alienating much of its resguardo during the traumatic decades of the 1870s and 1880s, points to the importance of the indígenas' own choices and the relative strength of their communal institutions and identities as indigenous in determining the extent to which they participated or not in commodification of land rights. See Appelbaum, “Remembering Riosucio,” chap. 10, for an examination of San Lorenzo and these factors, which are not treated here.


Preceding decades had seen few land transactions; the office responsible for registering all notarized real estate transactions for the districts of Riosucio, Supia, Anserma, Gnática, Marmato, Quinchía, and Arrayanal contained a little over 200 documents of various sorts for 1857-67, only 11 of which explicitly referred to plots within resguardos. No documents for land transactions that occurred between 1860 and 1873 explicitly refer to the resguardos. During the 1860s, a few sales of lands and mineral rights within communal boundaries did occur, but the relevant documentation makes no reference to the indigenous communities. Then in 1874-75, 147 transactions were listed for Supía district alone, 27 of which referred specifically to plots of land within indigenous resguardos, mainly in Supía-Cañamomo. By the mid-1870s, the volume of transactions had increased to the point that officials found it necessary to divide the Registry of Public Instruments in half; see tomos 1857-92, RIPR Supía and Riosucio.


Cauca Law 41, 4 Oct. 1879, “sobre protección de indígenas,” Registro Oficial (Popayán), 25 Oct. 1879, pp. 1-3.


National Law 89, 25 Nov. 1890, “por la cual se determina la manera que deben ser gobernados los salvajes que vayan reduciéndose a la vida civilizada,” reprinted in Registro Oficial (Popayán), 18 Mar. 1891, pp. 709-10.


The deeds registered in RIPR Riosucio and Supía did not indicate buyers’ place of origin, only their place of residence at time of sale, impeding an exact count of regional and national origin of buyers. The British company at Marmato was the Western Andes Mining Company.


Census for Supía-Cañamomo, 1874, NS, 1867-74, and RIPR Supía, 1874-75; and “Padrón de la parcialidad de indígenas de San Lorenzo,” 28 June 1874, notarized 28 Sept. 1874, NS. The padrones were drawn up by cabildo officials under the supervision of outside authorities, including Ramón Palau, who had returned to Riosucio from Popayán and had assumed the post of jefe municipal. The accuracy of the Supía-Cañamomo padrón, which initially counted 336 members of all ages, was immediately called into question. In the final months of 1874, 160 people successfully appealed to the cabildo for having been excluded from the original padrón of Supía-Cañamomo. Then they signed over a portion of the rights they won to the legal representatives who had secured those rights. On 8 Oct. 1874, for example, 12 men and 16 women signed one-third of their land rights over to Eustaquio Tascón. Similar documents ensued whereby newly recognized members ceded a third of their shares. These transactions are recorded in 10 and 14 Oct., 17 Nov., and 12 Dec. 1874, RIPR Supia, nos. 52, 57-58, 66, 74, fols. 29, 32, 36, 72; and 26 Nov. 1874, NS, no. 93, fol. 194.


The conclusions in this section are based on my analysis of transactions registered in the RIPR from the 1850s through the early 1890s, as well as personal observations in the countryside around Riosucio and discussions with local inhabitants during 1993-95. See Appelbaum, “Remembering Riosucio,” esp. chaps. 3-5, for more specific references and a more detailed discussion.


The local population did not appear to increase greatly until the last quarter of the century. The combined population of the adjacent Riosucio and Supía districts (the borders between which fluctuated substantially) was officially reported as 6,875 in 1851 and 8,000 in 1871, though those numbers were disputed at the time; AGN, República, Censos de población, 1851, 1871. A regional census in 1905 estimated a combined population of 24,145 for the two districts; but again these numbers are not reliable. See “Censo del Departamento del Cauca,” Registro Oficial (Cauca), 22 Mar. 1905, p. 1058.


Leg. of measurements, 1875-76, Archivo de la Comunidad de La Montaña.


Regarding El Oro, see Consuelo Castaño C. and Gabriel Gallego M., “Papel del parentesco en la familia como unidad de producción, circulación y consumo” (Tesis de grado, Univ. de Caldas, 1989), 50-53, 60-95. Many of my impressions of El Oro were gathered from discussions carried out between 1993 and 1995 in the town of Riosucio and in El Oro.


An example of a land transfer involving an Antioqueño settler and Santiago Silva as administrator of La Montana was registered on 28 May 1876, RIPR Riosucio, no. 74, fol. 43. We do not know what, if any, portion of the payment actually reached the cabildo. We should not even assume that money necessarily changed hands, regardless of what the registered transactions indicate. During the 1870s it was common for non-Indians to serve as administrators of local indigenous holdings. To what extent they were imposed on the cabildos is not clear. During the 1880s indigenous authorities took over this post, but they continued to alienate resguardo lands.


For examples of transactions in which these indigenous authorities took part, see documents registered on 12 Aug. 1877, fol. 2; 16 Aug. 1888, fol. 44, no. 95; 3 Apr. 1888, fol. 15, no. 30, all in RIPR Riosucio. In chapter 5 of “Remembering Riosucio,” I explore in greater depth the ambiguities and apparent contradictions in the actions of indigenous authorities, and their relationships with patrons such as Palau. On the ambiguities of indigenous identities, alliances, and land tenure for a southern Colombian community, see Joanne Rappaport, Cumhe Reborn: An Andean Ethnography of History (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1994).


For an example of a petition in which an indígena from Riosucio explicitly refers to negative effects of Antioqueño migration, see Justiano Pescador to Secretary of Government, 5 Sept. 1895, ACC Muerto, paq. 221, leg. 51. See also Appelhaum, “Rememhering Riosucio,” chaps. 5 and 7.


“Acta No. 5 . . . 9 de abril de 1899,” registered on 2 June 1902, RIPR Riosucio, tomo 1898-1902, fol. 35, no. 68.


Incidentally, a century later, when I asked a leader of La Montaña about the Antioqueño migrants, he said that they caused a lot of problems, but that they “also brought progress”; interview with Miguel Antonio Largo Pescador, 27 Nov. 1993, Riosucio.


El Iris (Riosucio), 1 Jan. 1884. See Palau’s response in ibid., 1 Feb. 1884.


Ibid., no. 2, 15 Jan. 1884.


Ibid., no. 1, 1 Jan. 1884; no. 2, [15 Jan.] 1884; no. 6, 15 Mar. 1884.


“Decrepitud,” ibid., no. 5, 1 Mar. 1884.


Griseldino Carvajal, “Exposición descriptiva del camino de Chamí y sus ramificaciones,” Registro Oficial (Popayán) 31 Mar. 1896, p. 3738. See also the report of Rodolfo Velasco, whose views closely coincided with those of Carvajal. Carvajal approvingly quoted Velasco and prominent local leaders such as Tomás Eastman. Thus his comments seem representative of sentiments shared among local elites and officials. See Rodolfo Velasco V, “Agricultura. Nota del prefecto provincial de Marmato,” Registro Oficial (Popayán), 22 Aug. 1892, p. 1679.


“Informe . . . Alcaldía Provincial de Marmato, Riosucio, 8 de Octubre de 1906,” Registro Oficial (Manizales), 1 Mar. 1907, pp. 1178-80.


The Antioqueños’ qualities were so familiar to his readers, he noted, that he did not even need to spell them out; ibid., 1179-80.


Decree no. 20, 7 Oct. 1887, Registro Oficial (Popayán), 27 Oct. 1887, p. 2, cited in Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos, 65.


Alonso Valencia Llano, Empresarios y políticos, 68-69.


Historian Oscar Almario suggests that in the small Afro-Colombian and Indian villages that dotted the Cauca valley and the adjoining highlands, the arrival of Antioqueño settlers signaled the demise of communal forms of property ownership and the advent of cash exchanges and private property; see Oscar Almario, La configuración moderna del valle del Cauca, Colombia, 1850-1940: espacio, poblamiento, poder y cultura (Cali: Corporación Cívica Daniel Gillard, 1994), 138-39.


Twentieth-century descendants of old elite families of the Cauca valley, south of Riosucio, now recall that their late-nineteenth-century forbears disdained the vulgar Antioqueño carpetbaggers; conversation with María Gladys Azcarate, Buga, 15 July 1994. Such memories, however, obscure the extent to which many nineteenth-century Cancanos had once believed that the Antioqueños embodied their hopes for Cauca’s future.


See editorials in various Manizales newspapers; El Mensajero, 25 Feb. and 15 Apr. 1905; and El Ruiz, 15 Apr. 1905, pp. 1-2.


Caldas has since split into three departments (Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío), all of which Colombians sull refer to collectively as “viejo Caldas” or either “la región cafetera” or “el eje cafetero.” The extent to which Colombians refer to the three departments as a cohesive region is reflected in the fact that it has its own regional television station (Telecafé) and even its own guerrilla front of the FARC rebels, the Frente Cafetero.


Duque Gómez noted such surprise in 1944; see “Grupos sanguíneos,” 623.


The participation of Cancanos in the transformation of northeastern Cauca suggests the inadequacy of the Colombian term colonización antioqueña and of the English term “Antioqueño colonization” for describing the complex migratory, legislative, electoral, military, economic, and cultural processes that accompanied the construction of regional identity. Colonización implies the agricultural cultivation, or demographic settlement, of “virgin” territories. Moreover, James Parson’s translation of colonización antioqueña as “Antioqueño colonization” in his pioneering 1948 book was somewhat misleading because in contemporary English usage “colonization” usually implies the domination of one group of people by another, which was not what Parsons or the Colombian proponents of the “rosy legend” had intended. The “black legend” versions of Antioqueño “invasion” do portray a more conflictive process of social, political, and cultural domination. In an effort to transcend the simplistic dichotomy of pro-versus anti-Anrioqueño narratives, I would argue that the term “Antioqueño colonization” in English applies only if we think of colonization as resulting from interactions between colonizers and colonized, people above and below.


The indígenas of the resguardos and former resguardos in and around Riosucio are now among the poorest inhabitants of Caldas.


On the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, see Christopher London, “From Coffee Consciousness to the Coffee Family: Reformation and Hegemony in Colombia’s Coffee Fields” (paper presented at the meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Washington, D.C., 28-30 Sept. 1995).


Regarding the “forgetting” and “remembering” of indigenous identities, the suppression of communal institutions, the break-up of communal landholdings, and mestizaje, see Jeffrey L. Gould, To Die in This Way: Nicaraguan Indians and the Myth of Mestizaje, 1880-1965 (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1998); and Rappaport, Cumbe Reborn.


Julián Bueno Rodriguez, “Reseña histórica del carnaval de Riosucio,” Supía Histórico año 6 (Dec. 1993), and “Aspectos históricos del municipio,” in Riosucio Caldas, plan de desarrollo (Manizales: Gobernación de Caldas, 1977). See also the many contributions of Jorge Eliecer Zapata and “Konrado Kataño” to Supía Histórico.


Otto Morales Benitez, Cátedra caldense (Bogotá: Banco Central Hipotecario, 1984).


Eduardo Posada-Carbó, The Colombian Caribbean: A Regional History, 1870-1950 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 3; and Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. (London: Verso, 1983).


On Antioquia as an imagined community and the importance of boundaries and Others for imagining that community, see Roldán, “Violencia, colonización y la geografía,” 8.

The observation that regional identities resulted from historical struggles over power and terrain may seem obvious, but I believe it is particularly important to keep in mind given the various proposals circulating in Colombia in recent years for administratively reordering the nation’s territorial divisions according to “real” regions in order to promote grassroots democracy and autonomy in a violent and repressive country where the legitimacy of the national government has been severely challenged. Similarly, the historical processes and power struggles that have gone into the construction of ethnic minority identities and local communities must be taken into consideration. Stern’s warning to avoid substituting regional essentialism for national essentialism in Mexico also applies to Colombia; see Secret History of Gender, 219.