Washington, D.C. June 12, 2018. The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) organized the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas to participate at the 48th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the OAS, and designated Mirtha Colon, President of the Central-American Black Organization (ONECA), as its spokesperson.
Race and Equality convened an estimated 15 Afro-descendant activists representing several countries of the region to finalize the creation of the Afro-descendant Coalition’s report, which was presented during the June 2 plenary session – a dialogue that included State authorities, the OAS Secretary General and the OAS Assistant Secretary General, members of civil society and the private sector. The session was held at the Hall of the Americas OAS Main Building.
As spokesperson of the coalition, Mrs. Mirtha Colon began by congratulating distinguished Costa Rica Vice-President Epsy Campbell – present in the session – for becoming the first Afro-descendant Vice-President in the Americas, and the first Afro-descendant woman head of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Afterwards, she presented the coalition’s report, which informed those present of the negative implications that corruption has on the Afro-descendant population, and the prevalence of racial discrimination and structural racism in the Americas, which encompasses women, men, children, adolescents, senior citizens, people with disabilities, migrants, stateless citizens, LGBTI, and others.
The coalition stressed the importance and necessity of implementing the goals of the International Decade of People of African Descent and urged states to sign and ratify the Inter-American Convention Against Racism – something they had also actively promoted at this years’ VIII Summit of the Americas, held in Lima, Peru.
In addition, the coalition spoke out against systematic violence and the criminalization of social leaders and Afro-descendant activists, who are continuously killed, threatened and persecuted for their community work, in countries such as Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, etc. They also raised concern for States which ignore these acts.
During the session days, the Afro-descendant Coalition also took part in conversations with members of other coalitions as well as engaging with different State representatives, all the while informing them of the difficult reality that Afro-descendants live in. The coalition stressed the importance of making use of the information presented at the session to further advocacy work with their respective governments, international aid organizations, and within the OAS, so that these reports may promote positive changes within their countries.