Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Paraguay - Emboscada

In 1741 the governor of the province of Paraguay, Rafael de la Moneda, decided to found the town of Emboscada[1] whose settlers would be free pardos exclusively, in order to defend the border. Emboscada was a unique case in colonial America. Free pardos were exempted from paying the silver tribute and it was established as an Indian village, as a community, although it was constantly exploited by the governors.

Today it is a place with a very high concentration of people of African descent, a 58% of the total population.


[1] To establish towns instead of small forts and at the same time with a population of pardos so that the farmers (who were Spanish and poor) could take care of their farms was a strategy that was implemented in the mid 18th century.


See more

- What is striking about Emboscada, undoubtedly, is the San Agustin Church built towards the end of the 18th century. In the last few years the church has been cared for and at present the high altar is being restored. However, colonial buildings such as residences and/or places of business were not preserved. Even the parochial house was modernized.

-  The community of Emboscada is taken into account both by the authorities and by the general population of the area, as a centre with presence of African descendants. It is the place with the largest concentration of African descendants identified as such in the whole country (around 7.210 persons according to the 2007 census).

The municipality of Emboscada is linked to the capital city (Asunción) through the "General Elizardo Aquino" National Route N° 3, which is in very good condition.
See less

Other data of interest


Historical name

San Agustín de la Emboscada

Founding Date

Circa 1741


Emboscada es un municipio del Departamento de la Cordillera en Paraguay, a 39 km de Asunción , PC: 3210 .


Human settlement





Access level


Current Use

Residential, services, administrative, productive, etc.

Original use

Originally a town for free pardos only whose objective was the defence against the incursion of Indian groups not yet subject to the Spaniards.

Property kind


Expressions of intangible heritage associated

In some companies[1] of Emboscada, such as that of Minas, when celebrating the day of the patron saint – in this case the day of San Francisco Solano, on 24 July – the outfits of kamba ra’anga and guaikuru ra’anga[2] are used. According to the research of Carlos Colombino, these festivities with black and indigenous masks go back at least to the 17th century, to recall the Spanish medieval street celebrations. The ancient meaning of these masks, seemingly, was that of recalling the ancient enemies of the Spanish, in this case the kamba represented the bandeirantes from Brazil, and the Spanish conquistador was represented by the burning bull.

These meanings have not survived to our days, but the masks are used, with costumes, especially in certain regions such as Emboscada, Altos and Tobaty. In general, and of this there are coincidences in several places, the dress of the males is made from leaves of banana trees to simulate camouflage and wooden (timbó or cubé wood – lonchocarpus nicou) masks are used. It would seem that there is a new meaning for the use of the kamba ra’anga regarding the African presence in Paraguay, however, it is noticeable that the festivities in which they are used have no relation to a saint of African origin (in a company of Altos, Itá Guasú, they celebrate the festivity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul).

[1] A company would represent a rural neighbourhood of the territory.

[2] The translation would be “figure/image of a Black” and "figure/image of a guaikurú”, and the guaicurúes were one of the peoples of El Chaco who disliked or mistreated the Spanish colonial population.