The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights works to promote racial and ethnic equality for Afro-descendant and indigenous communities – a unique focus among international human rights organizations. We work with Afro-descendant and LGBTI organizations in Cuba, as well as with a wide range of organizations in Latin America fighting racial discrimination or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to official data, Afro-Cubans – blacks, mulatos, and mestizos – represent 30% of the national population. Afro-Cubans experience structural racial discrimination and social exclusion that is reflected in high rates of unemployment, as well as a lack of access to housing and quality education. Independent activists and Afro-descendant human rights defenders suffer the same repression that is visited upon those who oppose the island’s regime. Their situation is worsened by a lack of access to foreign currency and opportunities in emerging sectors of the economy such as tourism and self-employment. The official position of the Cuban government is that one of the achievements of the Revolution was the elimination of racial discrimination; therefore there is an official denial of the existence of racial discrimination.

The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights works in Cuba to strengthen the capacity of our counterparts to monitor and document human rights violations committed against Afro-descendants and members of the LGBTI community, while simultaneously increasing access to information on human rights, including information about the Inter-American Human Rights System as well as the Universal System.

The Institute also works to strengthen independent LGBTI organizations through the provision of training workshops on what is being done internationally to promote and protect the rights of the LGBTI population.

The Institute strengthens the capacity of our counterparts and the leaders of the various countries in which we work, so that they may actively participate in the OAS General Assembly, the Summit of the Americas Process, the Inter-American Human Rights Protection System, as well as the United Nations committee that monitors the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the committee that monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), through the provision of training, technical assistance, and political advocacy.