Total population
Regions with significant populations
Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina
San Andrés–Providencia Creole, English, Spanish
Protestant, Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Afro-Colombian, Jamaican people, Miskito people

The Raizals are a Protestant Afro-Caribbean ethnic group or a mulatto ethnic group of mixed Afro-Caribbean and British descent, speaking the San Andrés-Providencia Creole, an English Creole, living in the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, at the Colombian San Andrés y Providencia Department, off the Colombian Caribbean Coast. They are recognized by the Colombian authorities as one of the Afro-Colombian ethnic groups under the multicultural policy pursued since 1991. Some notable raizals are musician/composer/producer Elkin Robinson from Providence, and producer/composer/singer Jacob Bush (DJ BUXXI) from San Andres.


In 2005, Raizal constituted 57% of the 60,000 inhabitants of the San Andrés y Providencia Department, according to official statistics,[1] but other sources claim they are now a minority population in the archipelago, as a consequence of migration from and to mainland Colombia. The Raizal community in the mainland is represented by the Organización de la comunidad raizal con residencia fuera del archipiélago de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina (Orfa, based in Bogotá).[2]

Self Determination and the Raizal People

In 1903 the local Raizal population of the Providencia and Santa Catalina Islands rejected an offer from the USA to separate from Colombia as Panama had done.

Towards the end of the 1960s, separatist movements became active in the archipelago. The first separatists, an underground movement, were led by Marcos Archbold Britton, who addressed a memorandum to the United Nations, asking for the inclusion of the archipelago in the list of colonized territories. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) paid a private visit to the archipelago shortly afterwards, arousing suspicion in mainland Colombia.[3]

The second movement, born at the end of the seventies, grew stronger in the following decade, and culminated in the creation in March 1984 of the Sons of the Soil Movement (S.O.S.), openly claiming the right to self-determination.

Since 1999, another organization, the Archipelago Movement for Ethnic Native Self-Determination for the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providence and Santa Catalina (AMEN-SD),[4] a radical separatist movement led by Rev. Raymond Howard Britton, has demanded the creation of an independent state.[5]

There are nowadays, according to a document from the Colombian government, two trends among the Raizals: a radical one, the Pueblo Indígena Raizal, represented by the Indigenous Native Organizations, among whom Amen, Barraca New Face, Infaunas (a Rastafarian-inspired group of farmers and fishermen), Ketna (Ketlënan National Association) and the SOS Foundation, and a more moderate one, Comunidad Raizal (Native Foundation and Integración Básica) led by former governors who are friends of the Colombian establishment, mainly Felix Palacios, Carlos Archbold and Alvaro Archbold N. This latter group is understandably more ready to participate in bipartite institutions set up by the Colombian authorities.[6]

In April 28 of 2002, the Raizal People signed a Declaration of Self Determination[7] where they asked the Colombian Government and the International Court of Justice for a major recognition of their autonomy and for appropriate resources for improving the quality of life in the island.


  1. Fernando Urrea Giraldo (October 12, 2007). "La visibilidad estadística de la población negra o afrodescendiente en Colombia, 1993-2005: entre lo étnico y lo racial" (PDF) (in Spanish). 12º Congreso de Antropología, Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  2. website: Organización de la Comunidad Raizal con Residencia Fuera del Archipiélago
  3. Adriana Matamoros Insignares (January 15, 2007). "Recordando a Marcos Archbold Britton, líder independentista raizal" (PDF) (in Spanish). Fundación Hemera. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  4. website: Archipelago Movement for Ethnic Native Self-Determination for the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providence and Kethlena
  5. Actualidad Étnica (June 4, 2007). "Raizales de San Andrés reclaman autonomía" (in Spanish). Fundación Hemera. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  6. Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario (November 23, 2007). "Diagnóstico Archipiélago de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  7. http://www.urosario.edu.co/jurisprudencia/catedra-viva-intercultural/Documentos/DeclaracionAutodeterminacionRaizal.pdf
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