Working Day to Heighten Visibility of Afro-Descendants in Chile: Workshop on the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Connected Forms of Intolerance

On April 15 in Santiago, Chile, the Afro-Chilean organizations Lumbanga and Oro Negro held a working day to heighten the visibility of the Afro-Chilean population, including a workshop on Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Connected Forms of Intolerance.

Carlos Quesada, Director of the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, spoke of the draft and signing process of the Convention, approved by the Organization of American States General Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala in 2013. Christian Báez of the Lumbanga organization underlined how important it was that over 40 participants from various Afro-Chilean organizations, alongside representatives from the Foreign Ministry, had attended the workshop to better understand the current state of the Convention in the Chile, whose government signed the document in 2015.

Participants expressed the importance of understanding the Convention’s content, especially given that Chile currently does not plant to include the Afro-Chilean population in the 2017 census process. Azneth Báez from the organization Oro Negro said that racism and racial discrimination were so deep-rooted in Chile that Afro-Chileans are frequently mistaken for immigrants.

The event took place during the working day held in the Chilean capital, where more that 120 members of Afro-Chilean civil society had traveled 2000 kilometers from Arica to participate in various workshops, meetings and protests against the exclusion of Afro-Chileans in the next census process.

On April 13, a workshop was held at the office of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean on the importance of accurate statistics on the Afro-Chilean population. The workshop’s objective was to heighten the visibility of Afro-Chileans in the Chilean statistical system in order to better guide public investment to benefit the population. During the workshop, the Institute brought Cecilia Ramírez of the Center for the Development of Peruvian Black Women (Centro de Desarrollo de la Mujer Negra Peruana), to share the experience of Afro-Peruvians in successfully achieving the inclusion of the ethnic variable in the 2017 Peruvian census.

The Institute would like to remind the Chilean government about the recommendations made by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, specifically the recommendation that Chile include disaggregated data on the Afro-Chilean population in its next report to the Committee.

Other events held during the three-day period included a visit to the Chilean Congress, cultural activities and a public demonstration in Santiago to demand the inclusion of Afro-Chileans in the census. The workshop was supported by the Ford Foundation and the Arica municipal government.

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