The natives of the San AndrĂ©s archipelago are the Raizals. They are as different to mainland Colombians as the sun is to the moon. Their ethnic roots lie in African slaves, Arawak-Caribe indigenous, and British and other European settlers. The Raizals' native languages are Creole and English, and they are Protestant. Culturally and historically, they are more similar to Caribbean coast Central Americans than they are to Colombians. They are traditionally seafarers, fishermen and farmers.
Since the â€śColombinaztionâ€ť of the archipelago in the 1950s, the Raizals have faced tremendous repression of their culture and ways. They argue they suffer from racial, linguistic, racial, socio-economic and political discrimination. Raizals now number less than a third of the archipelago's population. They are a minority on San AndrĂ©s Island. On Providencia, Raizal culture still has a stronghold. Their unemployment figures is around 70%. The human rights group Minority Rights recognizes Raizals as an endangered culture.
In response to what they refer to as the â€śneo-colonial repressionâ€ťof the Colombia government, in June 2007 the Raizals declared their homeland an independent state: Saint Andrews, Old Providence and St. Kethleena.
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...