Race and Equality and Colombian Congress Members Join Efforts to Promote the Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism

Race and Equality and Colombian Congress Members Join Efforts to Promote the Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism

Colombia, november 16, 2023. The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) organized a breakfast meeting to discuss the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) with representatives from the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission and the Office of the Vice President of the Republic. During the activity, the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission committed to making all necessary efforts to promote the ratification of the Convention in the country. Race and Equality, in turn, pledged to provide technical assistance to promote the ratification of the international instrument by the Colombian state. 

The discussion addressed the current political context in Colombia, with a special emphasis on the significant representation of Afro-descendant individuals in the Congress of the Republic. Additionally, it highlighted the historic milestone of having the first Afro-descendant vice president in the country, underscoring the need to reach consensus on the adoption of normative instruments to eradicate racial discrimination and all forms of intolerance. 

 Moreover, a comprehensive analysis was conducted regarding the presence of racism in all sectors of society, including the Congress of the Republic and racialized communities. The need to undertake efforts leading to the eradication of systemic and structural racism was emphasized.

Among the identified points to promote the ratification and implementation of the CIRDI, the need for the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission to join forces to jointly drive this initiative was highlighted. It is important to invite all relevant stakeholders, such as the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to participate in the discussion. 

The event featured the participation of Cristóbal Caicedo Ángulo, President of the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission, James Hermenegildo Mosquera Torres, Representative to the Chamber from Chocó-Antioquia, Dorina Hernández Palomino, Representative to the Chamber for the department of Bolívar, Gerson Lisimaco Montaño Arizala, Representative to the Chamber for the department of Nariño, etc.

The ratification of the CIRDI is a fundamental step to strengthen the commitment of the Colombian Government to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination. 



Lesbian Rebellions: advances and setbacks in the rights of lesbians

Washington, 13 October 2023.- The Day of Lesbian Feminist Rebellions in Latin America and the Caribbean is not a day created by the United Nations. Born in 2007, following an accord adopted at the 7th Meeting of Lesbian Feminists of Latin America and the Caribbean (ELFLAC), in which around 200 lesbian feminists from across the region participated, delegates chose October 13th to commemorate the first Regional Meeting of Lesbian Feminists of 1987 in Mexico, the first lesbian assembly with a public presence. [1]

Since then, several countries in the region have developed different political and cultural actions promoted by lesbian feminists in favor of visibility and against discrimination. Their advocacy has also brought about legislative and regulatory advances in human rights; however, there has been more progress in some countries than in others.

For example, in Nicaragua there are no laws that protect the LGBTI+ population, much less lesbians specifically. “It is difficult to think of setbacks with respect to lesbian rights in a country where there has almost never been progress,” says Nicaraguan activist Tania Irías, of the Grupo Lésbico Feminista Artemisa, a collective that has been providing spaces for reflection, acceptance, and non-discrimination to young lesbian women in Nicaragua since 2006.

For Irías, the greatest setbacks in the lesbian struggle are linked to the organizational disarticulation caused by “state repression and the establishment of a dictatorship that, as a repressive strategy, has undermined the process of articulation, demand, and visibility of lesbians as political bodies with rights”.

However, in this context of dictatorship, in the “allied” spaces, the struggle for lesbian rights is also usually relegated. “We are not a priority, and we are always being asked to leave the visible struggle to others,” explains Irías, who also assures that as a movement they are clear about the need to continue to occupy their spaces of visibility and to continue joining “with those who join us and making efforts, because it will be difficult for us we don’t,” Irías emphasizes.

In contrast, other countries have made significant progress in the recognition of LGBTI+ rights. In Cuba, for example, with the approval of the Family Code in 2022, several rights that favor lesbian couples were included, such as equal marriage, assisted reproduction, and adoption. On September 28 of this year, Decree 96, an action protocol that prevents and addresses harassment and discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation, gender identity, among others, in the workplace, also came into force. Despite this, in real life the changes are not so evident. “In Cuba, sexist and patriarchal thoughts and attitudes continue to hold sway, which is why lesbian women continue to be victims of hatred and discrimination. We are frowned upon in the street, we are offended and insulted,” says Irina León Valladares, Cuban activist and member of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR).

In the same vein, Annery Rivera Velasco, independent journalist, and Cuban activist mentioned that “the setbacks –that are more like the normal state of affairs—are social characteristics, as it is part of our sexist and patriarchal society.” Additionally, she said that in Cuba a lesbian movement does not exist due to disarticulation, since Cuban authorities criminalize people who work for the defense of human rights.

Colombia also has broad legal protections for lesbians. Its Constitutional Court has granted transcendental protections, one of them being the historic recognition of LGBTI+ people in the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Likewise, the Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 in favor of same-sex marriage.

However, there is still much work to be done so that norms are translated into actions, especially “in relation to reproductive rights, the right to life due to the rise in corrective rape and lesbofeminicide. In addition, discrimination and/or harassment at work due to lesbian sexual orientation,” said Sami Arizabaleta, activist, and director of the Afrodescendent Foundation for Social and Sexual Diversities (Somos Identidad).

“As a lesbian movement we are politically influencing the updating of the LGBTQI policy, with recognition of intersectional lesbian contexts. The strategies are diverse from the regional and social contexts, but in general terms we are advancing in organizational strengthening, political advocacy from the enforceability of rights, denunciations, and dialogue for the adoption of measures,” shares Sami.

In the case of Peru, a country mired in a deep political, social, and institutional crisis, the illegitimacy of the government and the Congress of the Republic prevails. According to the last poll by the Institute of Peruvian Statistics (IEP), around 80% of the population demands the resignation of the president of the Republic, Dina Boluarte, the closure of Congress and new elections.

Both the legislative and executive branches of government have promoted initiatives against the rights of lesbians, LGBTI+ people, women, children, and adolescents. In addition, several congressional members have presented various bills seeking Peru’s withdrawal from the Pact of San José. “The rights of lesbians have been completely ignored by the current government of Dina Boluarte and the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP),” says Gabriela Zavaleta, lesbian feminist activist and advocacy coordinator of Más Igualdad.

She also mentions that the Working Group for the Promotion of Lesbian Rights of the MIMP has been deactivated and that for more than 5 years the approval of the investigation on the situation of lesbian rights in Peru has been postponed. “Only civil society organizations are resisting this situation, promoting the national and international articulation of lesbian organizations, carrying out advocacy actions before the CEDAW Committee for a general recommendation on lesbian rights, systematizing the proposals and demands of the organizations, and making efforts to unite lesbian organizations in a regional agenda that serves as a tool for advocacy with the different States and relevant institutions”, she indicates.

In general, various countries in Latin America have achieved significant legislative advances in the recognition of LGBTI+ rights. However, much work remains to guarantee that these rights are fully recognized and respected.

In light of this, Race and Equality highlights some recommendations for States in order to protect the rights of lesbians.

  • Guarantee the right to family and civil rights for lesbians through legal recognition of lesbian mothers and diverse families.
  • Guarantee access to equal marriage and keep unrestricted respect for rights acquired abroad.
  • Develop mechanisms to avoid the criminalization of lesbian mothers in child custody proceedings.
  • Strengthen training programs for State officials in order to guarantee the dignified treatment of lesbians in public services.
  • Implement Comprehensive Sexual Education policies that guarantee respect for sexual diversity.
  • Record, document, and analyze violence against lesbians to formulate policies that respond to their needs.
  • Guarantee access to justice andnvestigate and punish discrimination and crimes committed against lesbians.
  • Promote the access of lesbians to political spaces and positions of power in order to guarantee the right to political participation without violence and the representation of identities.
  • Implement programs of attention and containment for cases of violence due to prejudice inside and outside the home.

[1] Ochy Curiel (2007). Un encuentro trascendente e histórico. Available at: https://rebelion.org/un-encuentro-trascendente-e-historico/

Principle Conclusions on the Situation of the Afro-Venezuelan Population in Migratory Contexts in Colombia

  • Race and Equality and the USAID INTEGRA Project present aninvestigation on the situation of the Afro-Venezuela population in migratory contexts in Colombia.
  • The research shows that Afro-descendant and migrant women suffer disproportionately from lack of access to services, mainly sexual and reproductive health services, due to a combination of discriminatory factors from a structural point of view, such as socioeconomic vulnerability, racial discrimination in medical settings, and lack of information and confidence in the mechanisms for access to justice to guarantee the fulfillment of their reproductive rights.
  • The report finds that, from an intersectional perspective, Afro-descendant women in migratory contexts have greater vulnerability and profound barriers to accessing their rights.
  • There is a close connection between racism, gender-based discrimination, and xenophobia. This means that migrant women of African descent are often victims of gender-based violence in their workplaces, formal and informal, and in accessing the health system. This violence is based on the reproduction of racial, gender-based, and xenophobic stereotypes. For example, due to hypersexualization and fetishization of Afro-descendent bodies constructed around the vulnerability of migrant women, in work spaces both formal and informal, the report identified cases of sexual assault, comments, and hypersexual insinuations.
  • The research findings highlight the need to integrate multiple approaches in sociodemographic and socioeconomic characterization procedures and to ensure the interoperability of information systems at the national level regarding the conditions of Afro-descendant individuals in migratory settings.


Colombia, September 29, 2023. The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), in the framework of the work carried out with USAID’s INTEGRA Project, presents the report: Situation of the Afro-Venezuelan population in migratory contexts in Colombia: Analysis and recommendations for the application of the ethnic-racial approach, product of the research conducted by Race and Equality, whose purpose is to generate recommendations for the inclusion of the ethnic-racial approach in the institutions of the migratory system and to promote the guarantee of their rights.

The investigation employed a methodology of life stories to analyze how gender, ethnic-racial belonging, and sexuality influence migratory trajectories. This came together in a qualitative investigation that identified sociodemographic and socioeconomic information, and life experiences of the Afro-descendant Venezuelan population residing in Bogotá, Cúcuta, Cali, Riohacha, and Medellín.


The lack of information and consideration of the differentiated experiences of Venezuelan Afro-descendants from a rights perspective and an intersectional approach cannot continue in a region historically and structurally marked by ethno-racial inequalities. In order to advance in the recognition of the rights of Afro-descendant people and to break down the matrix of racial and gender inequality in migratory contexts from a differential approach, it is necessary to recognize the existence and persistence of racial discrimination and racism. The current situation of Afro-descendant women interviewed in the framework of this research reflects that, although the notions of ethnic-racial self-recognition are different in the process of Venezuelan identity construction, the dynamics of inequality based on structural racism are reproduced in everyday life and condition the life experiences of these women. Furthermore, the lack of specific information about their experiences reinforces practices of institutional racism by not recognizing and characterizing this population in the same way as the rest of society.

In the workplace, research shows that there is a close relationship between racism, gender discrimination, and xenophobia. As a result, migrant women of African descent often experience gender-based violence in their workplaces, whether formal or informal, based on the reproduction of racial, gender, and xenophobic stereotypes.  Afro-descendant women tend to have access to jobs related to low-paid domestic work and mainly assume care duties in their homes, which acts as a barrier to their insertion into the labor market. Challenges were also recognized in accessing health, education, and justice mechanisms.   Therefore, it is urgent to advance in the construction of information from a differential perspective that recognizes these experiences, characterizes the population and their needs, and based on this, builds policies, programs, and projects to guarantee their rights.  Although socioeconomic indicators show that Afro-descendant women face greater economic vulnerability, this is not a “natural place”, but rather is the result of the inequalities among Afro-descendant women. It is the result of historical inequalities and power relations that condition and limit women’s lives.


According to the results of the research, Race and Equality recommends promoting the participation of all institutions that generate statistical information on people in migratory contexts to produce specific data on Afro-descendant people from Venezuela. The creation of variables on the socio-demographic and socioeconomic conditions of Afro-descendant people in migratory contexts should be guaranteed, incorporating variables from the approach of ethnic-racial self-recognition and heterorecognition. In this way, the identification of the population can be facilitated by understanding the Venezuelan socio-political and socio-cultural context and its diffuse relationship with ethnic-racial categories.

Likewise, it is important to guarantee the implementation of the ethnic-racial approach in the Comprehensive Migration Policy, recognizing the cultural and social contexts of migrants. It is recommended that characterization processes be carried out to collect relevant information. In addition, it is essential to promote and apply international standards against racial discrimination and migration, such as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), to develop policies and programs that benefit Afro-descendent migrants.

It is suggested that civil society organizations implement training processes with an ethnic-racial approach to the rights of Afro-descendant people in migratory contexts in Venezuela. Likewise, it is recommended to promote political advocacy processes to guarantee the rights of Afro-descendant Venezuelan people in migratory contexts in Colombia, establishing spaces for dialogue with state institutions. It is also important to stimulate knowledge management and training processes on the ethnic-racial categories in Colombia, as well as the normative opportunities that exist for the Afro-descendant migrant population.


Consult and Download the report: Situación de la población afrovenezolana en contextos migratorios en Colombia: Análisis y recomendaciones para la aplicación del enfoque étnico-racial



Press Contact:

Pablo Suárez / +57 3505824900 / periodista@raceandequality.org



Sofia Muñoz / +57 312 3233157

Lina María Velásquez / +57 318 2598076


Colombia: Concern over the territorial expansion of armed groups and their violent strategies of social control. UN High Commissioner.  

Colombia, August 22, 2023.- The Colombian Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented its analysis of Colombia’s human rights situation, in which it recognized the current Government’s approach to human rights, its willingness to address important issues, and its commitment to the protection of human rights, which has resulted in significant and positive changes. However, the Representative in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner Juliette De Rivero, highlighted the concerns and challenges that the Office has observed in the country and that require immediate attention.1 In particular, she expressed concern about the territorial expansion of armed groups and their violent strategies of social control over the civilian population and grassroots organizations, despite dialogue processes offered.  


Increase in massacres in the country    

During the first half of 2023, the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) recorded an 11% increase in the number of verified massacres compared to the same quarter of the previous year. A total of 52 massacres were verified during this period. Most of the massacres were allegedly perpetrated by non-state armed groups and criminal organizations. The most affected departments were Atlántico, Antioquia, Cauca, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Norte de Santander, Putumayo and Valle del Cauca. For its part, the Institute for Development and Peace Studies, INDEPAZ, has registered a total of 59 massacres in the country to date.2  


Violence against social leaders continues to be of concern.  

In the first half of 2023, the OHCHR reported a 19% reduction in cases of homicides of human rights defenders compared to the previous half (July-December 2022). While this decrease is encouraging, the number of killings of human rights defenders in Colombia remains unacceptably high. In total, 46 cases of homicide have been recorded, of which 39 were men and 7 women. Among them, 11 were indigenous, 9 were Afro-descendants, and 15 were campesinos. In addition, 35% of the human rights defenders killed were members of Community Action Boards. To date, INDEPAZ has registered 105 massacres or killings during 2023 in the country. 

In terms of displacement, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported a 33% decrease in cases of displacement compared to the previous six-month period and a 2% increase in cases of confinement during the same period. In addition, the UN Verification Mission has verified two fewer cases of killings of ex-combatants during this period.  


Sexual violence and human trafficking   

During the first half of 2023, the Office has received a total of 42 complaints of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of armed conflict, of which 27 have been confirmed. These complaints have been registered in the departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Chocó, Nariño, and Norte de Santander. Of particular concern is the situation of trafficking of girls and adolescents for sexual exploitation by non-state armed groups, as well as the rape of women and girls. These differentiated situations demonstrate the need to adopt effective and specific measures to guarantee the protection and effective participation of women, girls and LGBTI+ persons in all spaces of dialogue and decision-making for the comprehensive construction of peace. 

Race and Equality calls on the government of Colombia to take into account the report presented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which points out the existence of human rights violations that require immediate measures to protect the lives and rights of citizens in its national territory, especially in areas of the country that continue to be affected by the armed conflict and illegal armed groups. Regarding the protection of ethnic communities at risk, it is crucial that the State take effective measures to guarantee the full exercise of their individual and collective rights, especially due to the impact of the armed conflict and violence. The national government must work to repair and protect the rights of these communities, who are entitled to special protection according to international standards. 

We also urge the State to carry out a Comprehensive Reform of the National Police with the genuine and effective participation of civil society, especially the victims of racist police violence. Additionally the state should adopt, abide by, and effectively implement international standards against racism and discrimination, such as the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance (CIRDI), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the standards that have been developed to prevent the disproportionate use of force against people of African descent by security forces. 

Transcendent Voices: Art and Culture as Forms of Resistance and Pride

Washington D.C., June 28, 2023 – On International LGBTI+ Pride Day, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) wishes to dedicate this article to recognize, celebrate, and highlight the presence of LGBTI+ persons in the region in the field of art and culture, which have always been forms of resistance, survival, and pride for LGBTI+ persons. Their disruptive forms of artistic expression have revolutionized this sector, not only enriching it but also challenging and transforming the dominant narratives of cisheteronormativity.

From a human rights perspective, the A/HRC/14/36 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights states that cultural rights are essential for the recognition and respect of human dignity in many aspects. Through these rights, the development and expression of diverse worldviews – both individual and collective – are protected, encompassing important freedoms related to issues of identity.[1]

In this sense, the representation and dignified visibility of historically marginalized groups, such as the LGBTI+ population, are crucial to reclaim their bodies and identities and promote their human rights. “Combat stigma and discrimination. Positive representation in culture contributes to challenging the negative stereotypes and prejudices surrounding sexual and gender diversity,” mentions Alex Aguirre, Human Rights Researcher at the Institute for Peace and Development (Ipades) in Nicaragua, who points out that this also applies to oneself when characters and narratives reflect personal experiences that contribute to developing greater confidence and accepting one’s gender identity or sexual orientation without shame or guilt.

“Diverse artistic expression makes things visible, exposes, portrays, and enriches. Being able to enjoy art created by sexual and gender diverse individuals provides a different perspective to the audience, humanizing and making their expressions their own,” says Fhran Medina, lawyer and LGBTI+ rights activist from Fraternidad Trans Masculina Perú.

From the perspective of the meaning of art and culture, Guillermo Valdizán states in his book Creación Heroica that “forms of cultural production are intimately linked to processes of social transformation.”[2] In other words, cultural production does not exist outside of a specific social, political, and economic context and has been present throughout the history of societies; therefore, it is part of the social process and not just a tool. As Sol Ámbar Sánchez Latorre, Advocacy Director at the GAAT Foundation in Colombia, says, there is an appropriation of the more visible cultural sphere by LGBTI+ persons, which produces new representations and reflections on sexuality and gender, fostering cultural transformations.

Next, Race and Equality’s counterparts recommend some notable examples of cultural productions that have contributed to the visibility of LGBTI+ people:

Yunior Pino, Cuban photographer and activist: “We are courageous individuals endowed with talents and gifts; we educate to eradicate the taboos that have caused a lot of harm and discrimination for generations. I recommend the Cuban film titled Fátima because it portrays the harsh reality experienced by the majority of the LGBTI+ community in Cuba, facing a macho and discriminatory society and a system that forces family separation and prostitution.”

Sol Ámbar Sánchez Latorre, Advocacy Director at the GAAT Foundation in Colombia: “I would like the work of Kia sonorica, a Paraguayan trans artist, to be more widely known. She is also an anti-colonial historian and has a deep understanding of art history; and now she is one of the pioneering Latin American artists using artificial intelligence to create artistic works.”

Fhran Medina, Peruvian lawyer and activist: “Antay is my favorite Peruvian singer-songwriter, not only because he is a great singer, but also because of the work and immense heart he puts into each song and performance. His lyrics are filled with tenderness and artistry. As a trans singer-songwriter, he carries many stories and experiences of the trans population. The music video for the song “Júrame” is something that everyone should watch, and you can find more of his productions on Spotify and YouTube.”

Articulación Brasileña de Lésbicas – Rede ABL: “We recommend the work of Bia Ferreira in music because she is a black woman and ‘sapatão’* who brings true ‘gospels’ of liberation in her songs. It is important for other people to know her work because she explains the cause and solutions to various social issues in a didactic way.”

Alex Aguirre, Human Rights Researcher at the Institute for Peace and Development (Ipades) in Nicaragua: “I recommend the artist Ru Paul, an iconic Drag Queen and host of the show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ru Paul has been an important figure in LGBTI+ culture and has promoted acceptance and celebration of diversity.”

In conclusion, the visibility of LGBTI+ persons in the field of art and culture is a powerful indicator of progress in human rights. Through cinema, music, dance, theater, visual art, and more, a space has been conquered where these transcendent voices can be heard, and their experiences can be authentically represented. Race and Equality reaffirms its commitment to promoting the visibility and representation of LGBTI+ individuals in all areas of life and wishes them a Pride Month filled with music, art, and culture. All people deserve to live in a society free of violence, more just, and without discrimination. Human rights always!

*’Sapatão’ is a word of pride that refers to lesbian women in Brazil. It is similar to how the trans movement has embraced the word ‘travesti’.



[1] Report of the independent expert in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Farida Shaheed, submitted pursuant to resolution 10/23 of the Human Rights Council. Available at https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G10/124/40/PDF/G1012440.pdf?OpenElement

[2] Valdizán, Guillermo (2021). Creación Heroica: Neoliberalismo, políticas culturales y estrategia comunitaria en el Perú del siglo XXI. Lima: RGC Ediciones

Inter-American Forum against Discrimination celebrated the 10th anniversary of CIRDI and CIDI within the framework of the OAS General Assembly

Washington D.C., June 20, 2023 – The Inter-American Forum against Discrimination, an annual event organized by the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality), took place during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). It brought together representatives from the governments of the United States and Brazil, as well as experts and Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI+ leaders from the region, for an effective dialogue on racial discrimination in the Americas.

This year, the Forum’s theme was the “Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI),” which was held at the iconic National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington D.C.

Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of Race and Equality, highlighted in his welcome speech that the CIRDI is a Convention that broadly addresses racial discrimination, serving not only Afro-descendant peoples but also indigenous peoples and Romani communities.

The first panel, “The Historical Debt: State Responsibility towards the CIRDI and the CIDI,” featured the participation of Joy-Dee Davis Lake, Counselor Minister of the OAS Embassy and Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda. In her remarks, the Minister emphasized the importance of building a better world for diversity, free from discrimination, where every individual can fulfill their full potential. This panel also included Luz Elena Baños Rivas, Ambassador of the OAS Permanent Mission in Mexico, who could not attend in person but sent her message calling for commitment and strengthening of the CIRDI to OAS Member States.

Moderated by Carlos Quesada, the second panel, “International Efforts to Combat Racial and Ethnic Discrimination,” featured the contributions of Margarette May Macaulay, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH); Desirée Cormier-Smith, Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice (SRREJ) of the U.S. Department of State, and Symmy Larrat, National Secretary for LGBTQIA+ Rights of the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship of Brazil.

“It is necessary to pay attention to racial representation in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and in the United Nations Secretariat. Additionally, I call on government ministers and political parties to reflect on their resistance and inaction regarding the approval of the CIRDI by OAS Member States,” stated Margarette May Macaulay.

“We must commit to keeping the window of racial and social justice open. It is our responsibility to prevent this window from closing,” emphasized Desirée Cormier-Smith, urging all Afro-descendant individuals to empower themselves and influence their governments to build an antiracist democracy.

In her speech, Symmy Larrat celebrated the reestablishment of the LGBTI Popular Participation Council and announced the creation of a Working Group on ‘Memory and Truth,’ which will include experts and members of civil society to implement public policies addressing the historical reparation of the LGBTI population. “It is a challenge to strengthen LGBTI social movements with such a conservative congress. We won the elections, but we didn’t win the fascist wave,” she said.

Afro-descendant and indigenous leaders from civil society in Latin America shared their experiences in the panel titled Regional Experiences: Inclusion as a Tool to Strengthen Diverse Voices.” Moderated by Cecilia Ramírez, Executive Director of the Center for the Development of Afro-Peruvian Women (CEDEMUNEP), the dialogue included participants such as Maurício Yek’uana, Director of Hutukara Yanomami Association, who drew attention to the advance of drug trafficking in the countries bordering Yanomami indigenous lands in Brazil. “In addition to the miners we have been denouncing for years, criminal factions are arriving, and the government’s action is still insufficient to contain the invaders in the region,” stated Maurício Yek’uana. Adailton Moreira, Babalorixá Ilê Axé Omiojuarô, denounced religious racism and the State’s consent due to the lack of public policies that could curb violence against African-origin religions.

Representing the LGBTI agenda, the panel included Sandra Milena Arizabaleta, Legal Representative of the Afro-descendant Foundation for Social and Sexual Diversity (SOMOS IDENTIDAD) from Colombia, and Yader de los Ángeles Parajón Gutiérrez, an LGBT activist and member of the Mothers of April Association and the Unamos Party from Nicaragua.

Education and political will for anti-fascism are necessary for real inclusion. Authorities must bridge the gap between activism and the government,” expressed Sandra Milena Arizabaleta.

Yader de los Ángeles Parajón concluded, “Nicaragua owes a debt to gender identity. The violence generated by the dictatorship permeates all levels and remains silent. Many activists are persecuted. In this system, they no longer live, but they survive.” The panel also featured Wendy Geraldina López Rosales, an indigenous Guatemalan member and lawyer of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), and Cuban activist Jorge Luis García Pérez, who called for an effective alliance for the rights of their peoples.

The Guatemalan state issues arrest warrants against indigenous peoples, criminalizing them and subjecting them to inhumane treatment. They treat us as invaders, but no one can be an invader of land that historically belongs to them,” warned Wendy López.

I am a former political prisoner of Castro’s regime. My family is also a victim of fierce persecution because we are Black, because we are opponents. The dictatorship does not tolerate any form of faith either,” said Jorge Luis García Pérez, pointing out that religious persecution based on racial discrimination also exists in Cuba.

The last panel, “Coalition of Afro-descendants of the Americas and the 53rd Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly,” moderated by Elvia Duque, Senior Officer of the Race and Equality Program on Race and Ethnicity, provided the audience with a deeper understanding of the 53rd OAS General Assembly. It featured Paulina Corominas, Director of the Office of Civil Society of the Department of International Relations of the OAS, and Rosa Castro from the Association of Women of the Oaxaca Coast and Coordinator of the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas at the 53rd OAS General Assembly.

Paulina Corominas explained that there are 34 thematic coalitions formed within the 53rd OAS General Assembly, and on June 21, a dialogue would take place between OAS representatives and civil society. Rosa Castro highlighted some of the demands of the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas, which include a high-level meeting for the 10th anniversary of the CIRDI and an agenda that considers a fund for Afro-descendants.

Based on the diverse voices that resonated with the different realities and contexts of Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI peoples in Latin America, Race and Equality issued a call for unity in the Americas in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. With the CIRDI as the motto for an effective plan for its implementation by all OAS Member States by 2024, the alliance continues to support and empower civil society organizations to occupy these strategic spaces such as the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination.

Missed the event? Relive it through this link: fb.watch/lhnPl8jt7F/

Learn about our CIRDI 2024 campaign! https://cirdi2024.org/en/

Afro-Descendant Activists from Latin America and the Caribbean take over New York and Washington D.C.

Washington D.C., May 31, 2023 – In light of the second session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants (PFPAD), which will take place from May 30 to June 2 in New York City, organizations representing Afro-descendant women from Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic have formed a Delegation for Racial Justice to denounce racial and gender violence in Latin America. With the support of the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) and the Black Alliance to End Violence (Fundo Elas), the Delegation for Racial Justice aims to highlight the experiences of Afro-descendant women and the urgent need for international support in building agendas and projects to combat the various forms of racist violence affecting the lives of Latin American women from an intersectional perspective.

Additionally, Race and Equality, together with the Open Society Foundation, is promoting the participation of 15 other organizations, predominantly composed of Afro-descendant women from Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Permanent Forum of Afro-Descendants. With this collaboration, the Delegation for Racial Justice will comprise approximately 30 organizations, united in their call for international cooperation to end racial and gender violence in the Americas. The objective of this delegation is also to prepare a report with recommendations and insights on the first and second sessions of the Permanent Forum, to be presented during the third session scheduled to take place in Brazil in 2023.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants was established in 2021 by General Assembly Resolution 75/314, serving as a consultative mechanism to contribute to the fight against racism and the promotion of the rights of the Afro-descendant population. The forum collaborates with the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms. The first meeting took place in December 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, and in addition to the upcoming session in New York, the forum is scheduled to convene in Brazil in December of the same year. The Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants is part of the implementation activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent and is chaired by Epsy Campbell Barr, the former Vice President of Costa Rica.

Parallel Event: Racial and Gender Violence in Latin America

On Thursday, June 1, at 1:15 p.m. (New York time), the event ‘Racial and Gender Violence in Latin America‘ will be held at the Church Center of the United Nations. The event will call upon political actors present in New York to listen to the realities of Black and LBTI Latin American women. With panels on ‘Women’s Rights and Intersectionality’ and ‘Civil Society’s Vision in the Fight Against Gender Violence in Latin America.’ This space, organized within the framework of the Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants, aims to facilitate dialogue among Latin American women leaders, discussing the different contexts in which they live, where the brutality of structural racism manifests in terms of discrimination and violence.

Moreover, the urgency to address racial and gender violence is supported by data indicating that Latin America is one of the most violent regions in the global south, with the Black population being disproportionately affected due to the absence of specific policies. Therefore, this delegation aims to contribute to the development of the agenda and declaration of the Permanent Forum with a focus on combating racial and gender violence in Latin America. Furthermore, it seeks to establish appropriate channels for obtaining disaggregated data to better implement and propose public policies tailored to the realities of Afro-descendant individuals, particularly Afro-descendant women.

Political Advocacy Week in Washington D.C.

To strengthen and continue the work carried out during the Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants, the delegation will travel to Washington D.C. from June 5th-7th. With the support of organizations such as the Washington Brazil Office (WBO) and Black Women Radicals, they will meet with representatives from the Department of State and Afro-North American organizations, including the Black Caucus. They will also hold meetings with missions from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Additionally, the Delegation for Racial Justice will strategically work towards the implementation and strengthening of bilateral international treaties among their countries, such as the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), the Joint Action Plan for the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and the Promotion of Equality (JAPER), which has recently been reactivated between Brazil and the United States, and the Action Plan between the United States and Colombia for Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE).

“For this delegation, it is crucial that Afro-descendant women directly present their realities and recommendations for positive change because they play a key role in defending their communities. Moreover, the context of racial justice in the Americas is an important point of exchange between Afro-Latin American and Afro-North American organizations,” explains Elvia Duque, Race and Ethnicity Officer at Race and Equality.

To conclude the week of political advocacy, the ‘Black Women’s Movement in Washington D.C.‘ event will take place on June 7, starting at 11 a.m. (Washington D.C. time), at the meeting center for Afro-descendant women, ÌPÀDÉ. The panel discussion on communication and mobilization strategies against racism and racial violence in the Americas will feature the leaders who make up the delegation.


 Delegation for Racial Justice of Afro-Descendant Women from Latin America and the Caribbean

United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants – May 30th to June 2nd in New York

Parallel Event: Racial and Gender Violence in Latin America

Thursday, June 1, 1:15 p.m. (New York time)

Venue: UN Church Center – 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017. 8th floor. Located a two-minute walk from the UN headquarters.

Political Advocacy Week in Washington D.C. – June 5th to June 7th

Event: Black Women’s Movement in Washington D.C.

Wednesday, June 7, 11 a.m. (Washington D.C. time)

Venue: ÌPÀDÉ – 1734 20th St NW, Washington, DC 20009



Afro-Colombian Day: The Importance of Adopting the International Mechanisms and Instruments of Human Rights Protection

Colombia, May 23,  2023, Every May 21st, Colombia proudly celebrates Afro-Colombian Day ,[1] in commemoration of the Afro-descendent community’s historic fight for the abolition of slavery within the country. [2] This date serves as a platform to acknowledge and honor the cultural and ethnic richness of the Afro-Colombian population. While notable progress has been made in terms of rights and recognition, significant challenges persist in ensuring true equality and safeguarding the rights of black people, Afro-Colombians, as well as Raizal and Palenquero communities in Colombia. In the framework of this commemoration, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (hereafter, Race and Equality) proudly showcases its active involvement in international mechanisms and international instruments dedicated to protecting human rights. We urge the Colombian State to take decisive and comprehensive actions to implement these measures.

Racial discrimination, social exclusion, and racist police violence by security forces pose significant obstacles for Afro-Colombians. Despite the recognition of Colombia’s ethnic and cultural diversity in the Political Constitution, many Afro-descendant individuals continue to face prejudice and negative stereotypes that impede their opportunities and access to essential rights such as education, healthcare, and employment. In addition, the Afro-Colombian population has been affected and differentially impacted in the context of the armed conflict. For example, the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons (UBPD) has identified that 2,752 persons reported missing belong to Afro-descendant, Black, Raizal and Palenquero communities.[3] Moreover, Afro-Colombian communities have endured a troubling phenomenon of being rendered invisible by state censuses, resulting in official figures that fail to accurately represent the true size of the population. Thus, the last census conducted in 2018 ignored 30% of Afro-Colombian people, in what was considered an “irreversible damage” by the Constitutional Court, exacerbating the statistical invisibility faced by this population. Importantly, the decrease in the recorded Afro-descendant population figure cannot be attributed to changes in birth rates or mortality. Rather, it stemmed from various systemic issues present during the State-conducted census, such as security problems in certain territories and inadequate training of the personnel responsible for conducting interviews, among other factors.[4] These concerning outcomes can be attributed to a notable disregard by institutions for the persistent warnings voiced by Afro-descendent and indigenous ethnic organizations. The phenomenon of statistical invisibility significantly impacts the Afro-descendant population, representing an indirect manifestation of discrimination. Throughout the centuries, this population has had to demand their recognition in order to identify the inequalities they face and access their fundamental rights.[5] When faced with the reduction of the Afro-descendant population in Colombia in 2018, the Colombian State overlooked a critical opportunity to consider and adopt public policies designed to support Afro-descendant groups.

In light of this situation, it is imperative that the Colombian State embraces the adoption of International Conventions and Instruments aimed at safeguarding the rights of the Afro-Colombian population and combatting systemic racism and racial discrimination. Notably, the role of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1965 and entered into force in 1969, is of great significance. Colombia ratified ICERD in 1981, committing itself to take measures to prevent and eradicate racial discrimination in all its forms in the country.[6] Among ICERD’s main recommendations are the need to adopt effective measures to prevent, investigate, and punish racism and racial discrimination in all its forms. It also emphasizes the importance of strengthening the institutions responsible for guaranteeing equality and non-discrimination, as well as promoting education and awareness regarding the cultural and ethnic diversity present in the country.

Universal Period Review (UPR)

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that takes place every four and a half years and involves the evaluation of the human rights records of all United Nations Member States. It is a process sponsored by the Human Rights Council, which gives each State the opportunity to report on the measures it has taken to improve the human rights situation in its country and to fulfill its human rights obligations. The process involves the State, which may submit a national report, experts, and independent groups,[7] as well as national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations. In the fourth cycle of the UPR, Colombia presented contributions on actions implemented to guarantee human rights at the national level. Race and Equality also participated with a report on the human rights situation of Afro-descendants in Colombia, which describes the recommendations implemented and establishes new recommendations to ensure compliance on issues such as the armed conflict, the implementation of the Peace Agreement, the situation of Afro-descendant human rights defenders and actions against racism and racial discrimination.

The Institute’s report highlights several key recommendations, including the following:

  • Establish an effective follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Agreement that promotes dialogue between state institutions andAfro-descendant communities.
  • Implement a risk assessment that guarantees the incorporation of the ethnic-racial, gender, and territorial approach, from an intersectional perspective, in the discussions of the Committee for Risk Assessment and Recommendation of Measures (CERREM).
  • Strengthen and promote the participation of black, Afro-descendant, as well as Raizal and Palenquero communities in the risk analysis process in order to adopt protection measures that respond to the needs of protected persons.
  • Develop permanent participatory spaces from a territorial approach with Afro-descendant communities for accountability on the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the Ethnic Chapter to promote monitoring and direct dialogue with State institutions.
  • Design and implement a protocol to establish monitoring mechanisms for the implementation of Law 1482 of 2011.
  • Ratify the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI).

The International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement – EMLER

The International Independent Expert Mechanism is an initiative to promote racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement. It aims to ensure that police practices are fair and impartial, and that human rights are respected at all times. The mechanism is composed of independent experts from around the world, working closely with national and local authorities, as well as civil society and human rights organizations. Its task is to conduct impartial and objective investigations into allegations of human rights violations by law enforcement, and to make recommendations to improve police practices and prevent future violations.

This year, Race and Equality and the National Conference of Afro-Colombian Organizations (C.N.O.A.) submitted a joint written contribution to the Mechanism, with the objective of collaborating in the creation of the second report, as established in paragraph 15 of Human Rights Council resolution 47/21. The report describes and analyzes promising initiatives and good practices being adopted in Colombia to address systemic racism within law enforcement.

Promising strides have been taken to confront systemic racism within law enforcement, encompassing transformative measures that challenge the long-standing paradigm of perceiving and eradicating an internal enemy. Noteworthy initiatives include the comprehensive reform of the police force, facilitating the reconstruction of citizen security. Additionally, the establishment of the Dialogue and Maintenance of Order Unit represents an important step towards reforming the ESMAD. Furthermore, the inclusion of a human security approach in the protection of social leaders, with a focus on individual and collective differential perspectives, signifies a significant advancement. Lastly, the creation of a dedicated Ministry for Peace underscores the commitment to fostering a more equitable and just society.

Likewise, civil society organizations have carried out initiatives to denounce systemic racism within law enforcement agencies, among which we highlight: The GRITA Platform[8] and Policarpa[9] de Temblores NGO and the Statement of Proposals on Police Reform addressed to the State, [10] prepared by Mesa por la Reforma Policial, of which Race and Equality is a member.

Some recommendations included in the contribution to the Mechanism made by Race and Equality and the C.N.O.A are:

  • Inclusion and implementation of differential approaches, from an intersectional perspective, in the policies and structures of the Public Force
  • Implementation of human rights training for the police force
  • Guarantee the right to protest through the existence of differentiated protocols in contexts of social demonstrations
  • Transform the doctrine of the National Police
  • Establish accountability mechanisms and citizen oversight mechanisms.
  • Guarantee access to justice for victims of police violence and racist police violence

Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI)

The Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) was adopted by the OAS in 2013 to protect and promote the human rights of all persons regardless of race, color, ancestry, or ethnic origin. The Colombian government signed this convention in 2014 but it has not yet been ratified. A bill was filed in Congress in 2021 to ratify the Convention and promote its effective implementation in the Americas. The convention seeks to prevent and eliminate racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, promote equality and combat racism in all its forms.

The ratification of CIRDI is a fundamental step to consolidate the Colombian government’s commitment to promote and guarantee human rights and the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination.

On the occasion of Afro-Colombian Day, the Institute on Race and Equality emphatically calls upon the Colombian State to adopt a comprehensive approach to tackle the various forms of discrimination and exclusion faced by the Afro-Colombian population. This entails not only implementing specific measures to ensure their protection and foster their social inclusion, but also recognizing and appreciating their invaluable historical legacy within the country.

In essence, Afro-Colombian Day serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of acknowledging and valuing the nation’s ethnic and cultural diversity, while simultaneously implementing effective measures to guarantee equality and protect the rights of all individuals. Consequently, it is crucial for the Colombian State to embrace international mechanisms for rights protection, alongside concrete actions to combat racism and racial discrimination, and to promote the social inclusion of the Afro-Colombian population.

[1] https://www.mincultura.gov.co/prensa/publicaciones/Paginas/dia-de-la-afrocolombianidad.aspx

[2] Consagrada en la Ley 21 de mayo 21 de 1851

[3] https://www.elespectador.com/judicial/dia-de-la-afrocolombianidad-2752-de-personas-desaparecidas-son-de-esta-comunidad/

[4] https://ilexaccionjuridica.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/La-invisibilidad-estadistica-de-la-poblacion-afrocolombiana-y-su-impacto-en-los-derechos-humanos_WP-ILEX.pdf

[5] https://www.infobae.com/america/colombia/2021/12/08/reduccion-de-30-de-la-poblacion-afrocolombiana-en-censo-de-2018-sera-estudiada-por-la-corte-constitucional/

[6] https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=37&Lang=SP

[7] Procedimientos especiales, organismos de tratados, de derechos humanos, y otras entidades de las Naciones unidas

[8] https://www.temblores.org/grita

[9] https://www.temblores.org/policarpa

[10] https://raceandequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/PLIEGO-REFORMA.pdf


Press Release: Civil society Organizations Request the Government of Colombia to Promote the Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI)

Colombia, March 23, 2023. In the framework of the commemoration of March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, human rights organizations request the National Government of Colombia to actively promote the ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI for its Spanish acronym) in accordance with the recent bill that seeks its ratification.

This Convention, adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2013, establishes an international legal framework for the protection and promotion of the human rights of all persons, without distinction as to race, color, ancestry, or ethnic origin. It also seeks to prevent and eliminate racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, promote equality, and combat racism in all its forms.

In 2014, the Colombian government signed two Inter-American human rights instruments: the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, and the Inter-American Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. Both instruments strengthen the domestic regulatory framework in the fight against all forms of discrimination, recognizing that Colombia is a multiethnic country and respectful of diversity; however, to date these international instruments have not been ratified. In 2021, a bill was presented in Congress to achieve the ratification of CIRDI; the bill is the result of a collective process with different actors of the Indigenous and Roma (Gypsy) peoples, and led by Afro-Colombian activists thanks to the CIRDI 2024 Campaign “Towards a region free of racial discrimination” promoted by Race and Equality with the objective of promoting the ratification and universal and effective implementation of CIRDI in the Americas.

In Colombia, racism and racial discrimination continue to be a reality in the daily lives of many people, making them victims of multiple human rights violations in all social spheres. It is therefore essential that the State adhere to this Convention and commit to guaranteeing the right to equality and non-discrimination in all spheres of public and private life.

The ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) is a crucial step to consolidate the commitment of the Colombian Government in the promotion and guarantee of human rights and the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination. In this sense, we call on the national government to promote its prompt ratification and to articulate in all its actions, programs, and reforms the provisions of this Convention, which develops important measures based on the specific realities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the national context in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. For example, in actions related to police reform against racial profiling practices and human rights training from an intersectional perspective; actions against racial discrimination in educational institutions; measurement strategies that guarantee the collection of data disaggregated by ethno-racial affiliation; and, in general, the implementation of measures that articulate an ethno-racial approach from an intersectional and racial justice perspective.

Finally, the undersigned organizations reiterate the need to follow up on the bill that seeks the ratification of CIRDI, in order to eradicate all forms of racism and racial discrimination in the country.

Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados – AFRODES.

Coordinación de Mujeres Afrocolombianas Desplazadas en Resistencia – La COMADRE.

Convergencia Nacional de Organizaciones Afrocolombianas – CNOA.

Colectivo Justicia Racial.

Fundación Afrodescendiente por las diversidades sociales y sexuales Somos Identidad.

Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia- ONIC.

The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights

Afro Latines Advocacy Week: Race and Equality brings organizations from Brazil and Colombia to Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., September 27th 2022 – From the 27th to the 30th of September, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) brings human rights organizations from Brazil and Colombia to Washington, D.C., working to promote and defend the rights of the Black and LGBTI+ population.  In order to promote an exchange of political advocacy strategies between the Afro-Latine and the Afro-American movements, the meetings will take place within the framework of Black Caucus Week; an annual conference of Black U.S. Congress that aims to boost and debate the civic engagement of the Black population. In addition, the delegation participates in academic meetings with U.S. civil society organizations and private meetings with congress members and state departments.

The Brazil-Colombia delegation present in Washington D.C is formed by the organizations: Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra (BR) that will be represented by Rodnei Jericó da Silva, Coordinator of SOS Racismo;  NGO Criola (BR) with the presence of the Project Coordinator, Lia Manso;  Somos Identidad (COL), with the Founder Johana Sinisterra and the Legal Representative Sandra Milena Ibarbo;  and the Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES – COL), with the presence of Coordinator Luz Marina Becerra.  Representing Race and Equality, the Executive Director Carlos Quesada; Zuleika Rivera, Senior Officer of the LGBTI Program and Brazil Program Officer, Nathaly Calixto, will be present at these meetings.

In this exchange among Black Pan-American organizations, the Latin American organizations aim to take the Black and LGBTI+ perspectives of the global southern diaspora for an effective political impact, as well as exchanges of good practices so that they can move together to achieve plural racial justice. It’s important to emphasize that, for Race and Equality, these meetings are an opportunity to promote strategies of structural political changes with an intersectional bias; as Brazil is in the electoral period, Colombia’s President values racial agendas and, this year, the U.S. Congress goes through midterms elections.

“It’s precisely in this configuration that we empower organizations to act with political implications. Being able to talk to Black U.S. Congress members about the Latin American racial agenda is one way to influence the Biden administration, because it needs a congressional majority to pass its agendas.  It is in this sense that we plan to ensure and strengthen international human rights agreements on racial and gender justice and, in this case, there’s nothing better than organizations to guide the demands of their countries,” says Carlos Quesada.

Brazil and Colombia: In Search of Racial Justice

As the U.S. academic community seeks to understand and foster studies on the Black diaspora, the BRA-COL delegation will meet with academics and students at Howard University to share the efforts of regional civil society organizations in defending human rights. The idea is to show that even though racism is a global issue, the different sociocultural dynamics and the deficit economic contexts produced by centuries of colonialism, impact primarily on the most vulnerable populations in Latin America and Afro-Caribbean. In this case, to make known the racial and gender equity agenda of these organizations, can stimulate studies that provide, in  the future, the construction of equitable global public policies.

Brazil, for example, has the highest murder rate of LGBTI+ people in the world, and this incidence rate cross-referenced from an intersectional perspective is highest in trans-Black women in vulnerable situations. The organizations Geledés and Criola, together with Race and Equality in Brazil, conducted a survey monitoring the closure of civic spaces, in which they mapped that the rise of an ultraconservative agenda has generated attacks on the Brazilian democratic system, criminalization of human rights defenders and the immobilization of citizen participation councils and associations. With this, there are growing attacks and hate speech against Black women and elected LBTIs who intend to participate in the political life of the country.

In Colombia, for years the Afro-Colombian community has suffered a process of marginalization and vulnerabilization, and the civil society and Afro-Colombian leaders have denounced the existence of a geographical apartheid reinforced by structural and institutional racism.  This same structure resonates in erasing the struggle for the existence of ethnic peoples, which reinforce that civil rights in the country must be thought of in multiethnic and multicultural perspectives, taking into account how racist violence impacts these territories and racialized bodies. Similarly, for Colombian LGBTI+ people, the scene of gender and racial violence continues to increase: from January to June 2022,  354 victims of  sexual orientation assaults were recorded, 324 of whom suffered some physical abuse and  229 suffered these abuses within their own families.

The excessive use of police force in both Brazil and Colombia is a complaint presented to international human rights mechanisms.  The armed conflict in Colombia and police forces in Brazil intersect in the profile of their victims: Black people in vulnerable living conditions in territories whose presence of the state is marked by police violence. In Colombia, at least 1,144,486 people who identified themselves as part of the Black population were recorded as victims of armed conflict, according to data from the National Information Network, which corresponds to 38.38% of the total. In Brazil, the Brazilian Public Safety Yearbook points out that of the total of 6,145 deaths by police intervention, in 2021, 84.1% were Black and 15.8% were white.

Why the Black population is seen as a threat

In addition to this question and many others that permeate the racist structure that found the police corporations of Latin America, Race and Equality in partnership with organizations in Brazil and Colombia, continue in a regional project to confront and denounce racist police violence in both countries.  In the face of this meeting in Washington, D.C., police violence that intersects with the Black and LGBTI+ populations will also be the subject of meetings to placate this colonial modus operandi, in which Black bodies are exempt from the presumption of innocence and, because they exist, are victims of all violence and seen as a threat, whether in Latin American countries or Anglo America.

In view of this, racism, gender-based violence and LGBTIphobia pose the real threat to a system of oppression that disrespects inalienable human rights and international treaties that value their guarantees. For this, Race and Equality with the BRA-COL delegation intend to denounce to the American Congress members the current milestones of violation of the rights of the Black population and LGBTI+ Latin America. The exchange of these dissenting voices reaffirms the purpose of further denouncing racism and its different forms of violence that prevent the full exercise of citizenship, freedom of expression and the right to development of these countries as a call for partnership and inclusion of the Black population of all the Americas.

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