Criollo (people)

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Criollo
"Criollos in Latin America"

caption = Notable Criollos:
Juan Ponce de León II·Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz·Simón Bolívar·Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi·José Martí
poptime = Criollo 188,000,000 Latin Americans 33% of Latin America's population
popplace = Throughout Hispanic America
langs = Spanish
rels = Predominantly Roman Catholic·Protestant·Christian Latinos·Jewish minority
related = Spaniards·Italian·Portuguese·French· White Cuban· White Brazilian·White Argentine·White Mexican·White Latin American

Criollo is a term that dates back to the Spanish colonial casta system (caste system) of Latin America. It referred to a person born in the Spanish colonies deemed to have "limpieza de sangre" (literally, "cleanliness of blood") in respect of an individual's purity of European (Iberian) ancestry.

The term "criollo" is often translated into English as Creole, but this word has a much broader meaning. See Creole peoples.

Origin of the term

"Limpieza de sangre" or cleanliness of blood was a legal conception derived from the Spanish Reconquista, and later introduced to the Spanish colonies in the Americas. In Spain, the concept was used to distinguish old Christians of "pure" unmixed Iberian Christian ancestry (either Southern Spanish Mozarabs or Christians from the Northern Kingdoms of Spain) from new Christians descending from baptized Moriscos (Iberian Muslims) and Sephardim (Iberian Jews), together known as "conversos" (converts), whose real faith was institutionally suspected.

In the Americas the concept was adapted into a context of racial hierarchy based on racial "purity", in an environment which had become largely repopulated by persons of mixed race as a result of the arrival of Europeans and their miscegenation with indigenous Amerindians as well as with imported African slaves. A "pure" person able to be deemed a "criollo" would be one of proven unmixed Spanish ancestry, that is, the Americas-born child of two Spanish-born Spaniards, of two "criollos", or a Spaniard and a "criollo".

"Cleanliness of blood", and thus the classification as "criollo", could also be legally and automatically attained by people of mixed origin with 1/8th or less of Amerindian ancestry, that is, the offspring of one "castizo" parent and one Spaniard or "criollo" parent. The same 1/8th or less reclassification did not legally or automatically exist for those with any African admixture, although it was often subversively purchased with relevant "probanzas de sangre" (bloodline records) altered.

Criollos in the "casta" system

While the "castas" system was in force, the local-born "criollos" ranked strictly lower than the governing "peninsulares", that is, Spaniards born on the Iberian Peninsula, despite both being of legally pure Spanish blood. "Peninsulares" held the top ecclesiastical, military and administrative positions and favoured the Cádiz monopoly, while the "criollo" land-owning elite preferred free trade or smuggling with the British Americas.

By the 19th century, this perceived discrimination and the examples of the American Revolution and the anti-white Haitian Revolution eventually led the "criollo" to rebel against "peninsulare" rule. Eventually earning the support of other castes— "castizos", "mestizos", "cholos", "mulatos", "indios", "zambos", among many others, and ultimately blacks, they engaged Spain in the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) and the South American Wars of Independence (1810–1826), which ended with the break-up of the former Spanish Empire in America into a number of independent republics.

Criollo ethnic flag

The traditional ethnic flag of the Criollos of Hispanic America is identical with the flag of Bolivia, and therefore there have been proposals to create a new flag for Bolivia which combines the traditional red, yellow, and green banner with the ethnic flag of the Aymara Amerindians. A 2008 constitutional referendum in Bolivia will be held to make the Aymara flag a coequal national flag for Bolivia along with the traditional Bolivian flag. [ [ Proposal for new Bolivian flag combining the Criollo flag with the Aymara flag:] ]

"Insulares" of the Philippines

During the Spanish colonial era of the Philippines, the Spanish term "criollo" was used with the same sense as in Latin America, namely, a person born in the Philippines with wholly Spanish ancestry. However, the term was not widely used, and instead "insulares" ("from the islands") was more commonly applied to contrast them with the higher-ranking "peninsulares". However, the most common term for those people was "Filipinos" ("from the Philippines"), distinct from the modern definition of that word.

The meaning of "Filipino" changed drastically during the Philippine Revolution. It was adopted by nationalist movements and transformed into a national designation that encompassed the entire population of the Philippines, especially the descendants of the indigenous Malay peoples, replacing the native word "Katagalugan" or "Tagalog", which should properly pertain to the indigenous Malay peoples, according to Philippine heroes José Rizal and Andres Bonifacio (who himself was a Spanish "mestizo"). In fact, the meaning of "Filipino" today is the opposite of its colonial meaning, since it tends to exclude Filipinos of pure or mixed Spanish descent, who are seen and regarded by many Filipinos of mainly pure Malay descent, especially from the lower socio-economic classes, as not being "true" Filipinos but "foreigners". The same principle invariably applies to other non-indigenous Filipino "criollos" of other European descent.

Modern colloquial uses

*The word "criollo" retains its original meaning in most Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. In some countries, however, the word "criollo" has over time come to have additional meanings, such as "local" or "home grown". For instance, "comida criolla" in Spanish-speaking countries refers to "local cuisine", not "cuisine of the criollos".

*In some Latin American countries, the term is also used to describe people from the countryside or mountain areas. In Puerto Rico, natives of the town of Caguas are usually referred to as "criollos"; professional sports teams from that town are also usually nicknamed "criollos de Caguas" ("Caguas Creoles"). Caguas is located near Puerto Rico's part of the Cordillera Central mountain area.

*In Argentina, locals of Argentina's interior northern and northwestern provinces are called "criollos" by their "porteño" counterparts from Buenos Aires. They are typically seen as more traditionally Hispanic in culture and ancestry than the hotpot of non-Hispanic European influences that define the people and culture of Buenos Aires.


See also

* White Argentine
* White Brazilian
* White Cuban
* Latin America population
* Peninsulares
* White Hispanic
* White Latin American

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