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 The Eleven Most Popular Board Games in Latin America

Board games are a great way for children and adults to develop social skills, improve family relationships and reduce screen time–a need felt by many in our ever more technologically dependent lives.  Health benefits include increased memory skills, reaction time, cognitive ability and reduced stress.

Mancala is one of the oldest known board games and was believed to be played by the Pharaohs of Egypt according to archaeologists.  The “board” was the ground and the game involved capturing as many stones or seeds from your opponent in one of two rows of holes dug into the ground.  Every player began with 24 stones or seeds.  Whichever player ended up with the most seeds in his or her hole won the game.

From ancient to modern, Latin America has a variety of board game traditions that span both history and culture. While many games in Latin America share many traits with popular international games such as chess and parcheesi, various cultures in Latin America have adapted these games to their own cultures while inventing new games as well.  Here are eleven of the top original board games in Latin America to get you started.

1.  La Lotería (Mexico)

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Considered the Quintessential board game of Mexico, La Lotería actually arrived in Mexico via Spain. In La Lotería, the announcer provides an improvised short poem or phrase alluding to images on the cards.  Each player will then use a chip, or a kernel of corn, to mark the correct spot on their board or tabla.  The first player to fill out their game board in a predetermined pattern can call out either “bingo” or “lotería” to win. 

2. Parqués (Colombia)

Parques 6 Theme Colombia. worthpoint.com.

Also known as “Parchis” in Spain and “Parcheesi” in the United States, this popular international board game from the cross and circle family originated in India and is known as “Pachisi” there.  It is played with two dice and can have up to eight players. Each player has four pieces and is assigned a color.  The pieces start out in a “jail” box and can only be freed by rolling a pair.  The pieces must move across nine boxes on the board before exiting the board successfully.

3. Brazilian Checkers (Brazil)

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Played on a smaller board and with fewer checkers than other international versions of the game, Brazilian checkers are very popular amongst older adults in Brazil.  The squares are 8X8 rather than 10X10 but, otherwise, the rules are generally the same. 

4. Kay (Haiti)

KAY (Mancala awale game). Kisqueyanaturebijoux.com. 2018

From the Mancala family, Kay is Haiti’s rendition of the age-old international classic.  Haitian slaves derived their version from “Awele,” a game played in Africa, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia. An awale board is a piece of varnished wood with two rows of six carved round pits called “houses.”  The game involves two players with a set number of seeds or stones and the object is for one of the players to end up with the most seeds after following a set of rules and turn-taking, a description of which can be found here.

5. El Estanciero (Argentina)

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Sometimes compared to the US game of “Monopoly,” El Estanciero is similar except with themes of cattle management and managing a farm successfully.  According to Board Game Geek, the game also has a “rest space” that allows you to take refuge from high farming and ranching fees of your opponents.

6. Sapo (Peru)

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Sapo, also known as “choke the frog,” is a very ancient Peruvian game and is still very popular.  It does have a board.  However, it is a much larger three dimensional board and is best played outside. This is a “coin-toss” game. At the center of the board is a frog with an open mouth surrounded by carved out holes.  Two players must stand 4-5 paces back from the board and are given 10 Sapo coins at a time to toss.  Surrounding holes closest to the frog do have points and, when all coins have been tossed, the player with the highest score wins.

7. El Gocho (Venezuela)

El Gocho HD for IPAD. AppDecide.com. 2013

In the Peg solitaire family, El Gocho involves a triangular board with fifteen holes and fourteen pegs.  A player must remove the pegs by jumping over the adjacent peg.  However, unlike other peg solitaire games, the player must follow the lines of the board. This makes the game more challenging.  In the end, the object of the game is to end up with a single peg.

8. Fines (Guatemala)

Guatemalan Kids Playing Marbles. blog.seansheridan.com. 02/2011

In the marbles game family, the “board” is drawn on the ground and the object is to knock the opponent’s marbles off of the playing area.  Players are then able to keep the marbles of their opponents.  To determine who is the first player, players draw a line on the floor called a “mica” and players throw a marble from six paces away from the line.  Whoever gets their marble closest to the “mica” gets to be the first player.

9. Ludi (Jamaica)

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This game involves 2-4 players, a game board, four markers per player and a set of two dice.  Ludo is similar to many other games in that each player’s objective is to get all four of their pieces to home before the other players by following a set of rules.   It is also derived from the “Pachisi” family.  However, Jamaicans have given the board their own personality with colors and designs unique to Jamaican culture and have also customized the rules and traditions.

10. Adugo (Brazil–also Komikan in Chile)

Komikan. Boardgamegeek.com

This game is a two-player abstract strategy game that comes from the Bororo Tribe in the Pantanal region of Brazil. It was originally thought to have been brought over by the Spanish centuries ago because of the game board itself, an alquerque based board common in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.  The black (or red) piece on the board is the jaguar and the other fourteen pieces are white.  They are the dogs.  The dogs try to surround the jaguar in order to block its movements and the Jaguar attempts to capture at least five of the dogs to reach a stalemate, a win for the jaguar.

11. Thunka (Bolivia)

La Thunka. auroratutora.blogspot.com. 03/2012

Another game in which the “board” is the ground, this game involves drawing seven squares on the ground with chalk, one for each day of the week.  Part of the “hopscotch” family of games, each player tosses a stone or other object into the “Lunes” square and hops into it on one foot.  The same is done for the other seven squares until “Domingo” is reached and then the stone is kicked out. Players are disqualified by not hopping into the square where their stone landed and can only land on one foot.  In non-Andean Bolivia, it is also called “Rayuela” and there are different versions for boys and girls.  Additionally, the number of squares, names, and objects may vary.

Pride Celebrations Are Happening Around The World And The Biggest Ones Are Taking Place In Latin America

Culture

Pride Celebrations Are Happening Around The World And The Biggest Ones Are Taking Place In Latin America

@paradasp / Twitter

There’s growing up Latino and then there’s growing up as a gay Latino. While our culture is known for their supernatural skills at throwing a pinche good party, gay culture might just rival it. Both cultures’ party superpowers mixed together? ¡Imagínate!

Whether you own your identity as a queer Latino and want to feel affirmed from all corners, or are just looking for the best way to celebrate your Gay Pride, Latin America has you covered. Here are the most celebrated Pride events in Latin America along with some of its own local pride history. Be there or be square.

Mexico City, Mexico | June 27-29

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Going on its 41st year of gay occupation of Mexico City streets. Each year, the celebrations get bigger and bigger. The Mexican Student Movement of 1968 was as influential as Stonewall in sparking the first rebellion.

Of course, locals come out in their best outfits to celebrate the queerness of the Mexican capital.

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La Marcha de la Diversidad is the main event, which begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 28th. Despite the hate crimes persisting around the country toward the LGBTQ+ community, many say this parade is a day they feel less alone. Show up.

São Paulo, Brazil | Sunday, June 23rd

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This year will mark the 23rd annual gay pride parade in São Paulo. It’s 2006 pride went down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest pride parade in the world, rivaling that of NYC.

The Bolsonaro administration might be doing everything they can to push the LGBTQ+ community back in the closet, but that’s not what’s going to happen.

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Ironically, the government has invested millions of dollars into the parade. Meanwhile, the first openly gay politician in Brazil had to flee the country earlier this year because of the death threats he was receiving from the public. It’s still not safe to be openly gay in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | September

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While São Paulo wins the largest pride in the world, Rio’s comes close behind, with 1.2 million people in attendance every year. While this year would be the 24th LGBT Pride of Rio, strangely a date has not been set just yet.

See. Brazil is so queer, they boast some of the greatest pride celebrations in the world.

@AFP / Twitter

The parade typically marches down Copacabana Beach, as the gayest version of Carnaval sambas down the beach. Folks usually end up at Papa G’s club, which swells with proud members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Buenos Aires, Argentina | November 2

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Carlos Jauregui organized the first Pride, which, like most, was a protest march in 1992. Most of the roughly 300 people in attendance were wearing masks for their own safety.

Now, there are no masks hiding the identities of the participants because being part of the LGBTQ+ community is nothing to be ashamed of.

@Queer_America / Twitter

Today La Marcha del Orgullo a Pride ends with a public concert in Plaza Congreso. The parade is conveniently scheduled the same weekend as the Queer Tango Festival.

Bogotá, Colombia | June 30

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Bogotá’s first pride was made of just 32 people and almost 100 police officers In 1982. Today, the entire country celebrates, with Bogotá’s Orgullo Gay march attracting up to 50,000 folks.

Colombia has seen a rise in LGBTQ+ activism and this parade might be one celebration to watch.

@XHNews / Twitter

In fact, Latin America’ largest gay club, Theatron, is in Bogotá. It’s essentially a complex with 13 different dance floors, holding up to 5,000 people! There are rooms that are men-only, women-only, salsa music-only, Motown-only. The only question is, why aren’t you there?

Cartagena, Colombia | August 7-11

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This year, Cartagena Pride is selling itself as the “biggest gay event in the Caribbean.” You can expect a colorful parade, a drag race and a variety of boat parties.

With such a colorful and beautiful array of cultures throughout Latin America, there is no reason to think that Pride won’t be a major force in the region this year.

READ: São Paulo Hosts One Of The Largest Pride Celebrations In The World

Afro-Latinos Continue To Make Huge Impacts On Global Politics

Culture

Afro-Latinos Continue To Make Huge Impacts On Global Politics

World history books do not always include large sections to detail the accomplishments of Afro-Latinos across North America, South America, and the Caribbean. So many Afro-Latinos have thrown their hats in the rings and led their countries through difficult moments and elevated the political discourse needed to push contries forward.

Cecilia Tait

Olympic silver medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Cecilia Tait became a champion off the volleyball court as well in her native Peru when she entered politics 10 years later. After dipping her toes in local politics, she eventually became the first Afro-Peruvian elected to the country’s Congress.

María Isabel Urrutia

Another Afro-Latina Olympic medalist from South America who went into politics once retiring from sports is Colombian María Isabel Urrutia. She won her country’s first Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games and then transferred into politics, holding a seat in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia.

Julio Pinedo

In 2007, Julio Pinedo, a direct descendant of African slaves in Bolivia, was officially recognized by La Paz as ceremonious king of his Afro-Bolivian community. 

“He is a symbolic figure,” Spanish photographer Susana Giron told the New York Times in 2015. “For the Afro-Bolivians, he is important because he gives them a cultural identity. It shows they are a people descended from Africa. It is about their history and culture.”

Benedita da Silva

After Brazil’s military dictatorship ended, black Brazilians started to gain prominence in politics. One such example is Benedita da Silva, Brazil’s first female senator. Her resilient attitude was honed throughout her life, including when she received her high school diploma at the age of 40 and went to college at the same time her daughter was studying.

Her political resume includes becoming a senator, as well as the first Afro-Brazilian governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and Minister of the Secretary of State. 

She is also a fierce advocate for women’s rights in Latin America.

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapat

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapat is a Colombian politician, engineer and college professor. She was appointed in 2007 to serve as Colombia’s Minister of Culture, thus becoming the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold a cabinet position in her country, also the youngest. As part of her work as Minister of Culture, she has put Colombia’s name on the map, literally. She has acquired spots for her home country to exhibit at book fairs, film festivals, concerts, and conferences around the world.

Luis Gilberto Murillo

Another Afro-Colombian engineer who had a successful career in politics is Luis Gilberto Murillo. 

In 1998, Murrillo won the governorship for the state of Chocó, becoming one of the youngest people to do so. However, he was stripped from his governorship in 1999 due to what some newspapers and residents called a controversial court ruling.

Murrillo was kidnapped in 2000 in Colombia and after being released a few hours later, he fled the country with his family. He returned in 2011 after mostly working in Washington D.C. and continued to work in politics, most recently as the former minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in Colombia. 

He continues to be outspoken for issues on environmental sustainability and has not let the bumps along the road deter him from fighting for causes he is passionate about.

Pío Pico

Alta California’s final governor under Mexican rule was Afro-Mexican rancher and politician Pío de Jesús Pico. He served twice as governor and once he gained U.S. citizenship, was asked to be part of the Los Angeles Common Council, although he did not assume the office. If you’re in Los Angeles, you might recognize him as the namesake of Pico Boulevard. 

READ: Latino Politicians Sound Off Over Tom Brokaw Saying Latinos Need To Be Better At Assimilating In The US

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