[Rachel Décoste / mediadiversified.org] Although slavery was abolished in Argentina in 1813, many Afro-Argentine were still held as slaves. Emancipation was promised to those who fought in Argentina’s wars. Most African men signed up with hopes of winning their freedom. They were sent to the frontlines. Most perished while fighting for a country that did not recognize their rights.Until 1853, the law forced slave owners to cede 40 percent of their slaves to military service. The promise of manumission was offered to those slaves who completed 5 years of service — a promise rarely kept.Over the years, overt and covert government sanctions promoted ethnic cleansing. Argentina is now South America’s whitest country 97% according to the CIA World Factbook. Argentinians themselves have purged their African roots from their socio-historical landscape and conscience.Yet, in the countryside of Córdoba, the weathered slave quarters betrayed the collective silence.The nearly 400-year old estancia, kept in pristine condition, is the pride of Argentina. Its church is one of the best examples of the “Colonial Baroque” style in the country, with a discernible influence from central-European Baroque architecture. The estate was the most important center of cattle breeding at its time. There were also workshops with looms and harnesses, a smithy, a carpentry, a textile unit, two mills and a reservoir. Just outside the main entrance, a mud-coloured structure “used to serve as slave quarters,” the tour guide sheepishly pointed it out, in passing. He ushered the tour group along as I lingered behind.