The last King of America - PhMuseum

The last King of America

Susana Giron

2012 - 2014

The only existing monarchy in the entire American continent survives on the Bolivian Andes. This is the amazing story of Don Julio Pinedo, Afro-Bolivian king. He is a direct descendant of the former Congolese King, Uchicho, who come to America by error among the many slaves brought from Africa by the Spaniards in the colonial era, it was 1882. Crowned as a monarch by the Afro-Bolivian community, the Royal tradition survives until today. His institutional figure is recognized by the Bolivian Constitution and the United Nations. Those old haciendas houses and slavery coca fields, today give home to 16,000 Afro-Bolivians in coexistence with the Aymara. They are descendants of those first black slaves, they respect the figure of their King while they struggle by continue to maintain their cultural identity. Married with the Queen Angelica, Their son, Rolando Prince, dreams with to be the next King on future. Today, Don Julio Pinedo is 72 years old, he never wanted to be King, in fact he doesn´t feel as a King, he is just a humble farmer on the heart on the tropical Nord Yungas province, north side of La Paz.

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  • Don Julio PInedo remain seated in front of the TV on the grounf floor of his house in Mururata. The tinny house where he lives with his wife, Queen Angelica, has two floors. On the forst floor is the small bedroom of the royal couple. On the ground floor is the living room which is also a little shop of some basic suplies: fruit, oil, canes and drinks. Normally Queen Angelica attends the shop because Don Julio is working on the coca fields.

  • Official portrait of the Royal Afrobolivian family: don Julio Pinedo and Angelica Larrea. The only existing monarchy in the entire American continent survives on the Bolivian Andes. This is the amazing story of Don Julio Pinedo, Afro-Bolivian king. He is a direct descendant of the former Congolese King, Uchicho, who come to America by error among the many slaves brought from Africa by the Spaniards in the colonial era, it was 1882. Recognized by his people, Uchico keep alive in Bolivia the Royal tradition. After Uchico came king Bonifaz, and after him Bonifacio Pinedo. Julio PInedo was Crowned as a monarch by the Afro-Bolivian community in 1992, the Royal tradition survives until today. His institutional figure is recognized by the Bolivian Constitution and the United Nations. Those old haciendas houses and slavery coca fields, today give home to 16,000 Afro-Bolivians in coexistence with the Aymara. They are descendants of those first black slaves, they respect the figure of their King while they struggle by continue to maintain their cultural identity. Married with the Queen Angelica, Their son, Prince Rolando , dreams with to be the next King on next future. Today, Don Julio Pinedo is 72 years old, he never wanted to be King, in fact he doesn´t feel as a King, he is just a humble farmer on the heart on the tropical Nord Yungas province, north side of La Paz.

  • The Afro-Bolivian King, don Julio Pinedo visits the grave of his grandfather, King Bonifacio Pinedo, in the old cemetery of Mururata. Despite the passage of time, don Julio saved a great memory of his grandfather, which inherited the reign and which learned very much to exercise his work as monarch of the afrobolivian community.

  • Don Julio Pinedo lives on The small village of Mururata is on the middle of tropical forest, located 90 km from La Paz. This is a remote and poor area between mountains and coca fields, no more than 200 people live in Mururata, most of them farmers on coca harvest.

  • Prince Rolando and his mother, Queen Angelica help to dress the KIng with the Royal clothes and crown. Don Julio only dress the royal clothes during special celebrarions or events on the afrobolivian comunity. Don Julio hates to dress like that, he does not fell as a king.

  • Don Julio Pinedo works on the dry of the coca leaf at the door of his house in Mururata. February is a terrible season for rains. It´s very diffiult to find the sun to get dry the coca leaf. Coca needs to be dried under the sun for a couple of hours to be right. But is during this time, starts to rain or the coca leaf takes any wet, then will be totally uneless.

  • Doña Angelica, his son Prince Rolando and a afro relative of them. await for the right moment to start to dry the coca leaf. They are at their home which is also a small shop of basic suplies.

  • Portrait of Don Julio Pinedo wearing his fauvorite cap that he normally uses to his everyday and work on the fields as farmer.

  • Don Julio Pinedo seated on his desk in Mururata. The Major of council has given to him an space to receive some official visits.

  • Don Julio Pinedo holds on his hand the identity card of his grandfather and also afrobolivian king, don Bonifacio Pinedo. This is the only one object that Julio Pinedo keeps from his grandfather. Bonifacio Pinedo was the last slave king, because slavery was not abolished until the agrarian reform in 1952. Surname "Pinedo" was given for the owners of the land and Haciendas where the slaves were working, in fact Pinedo was the surname of the owner himself.


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