Afro descendant in the Americas: A Struggle for Recognition
African descendants in the Americas: A Struggle for Recognition
The United Nations and the Organization of American States has decreed 2011 to be the Year of African descendants.
There are over 150 million people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean with the largest numbers concentrated in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela
African descendant peoples in the region, display consistent realities and are affected by currents that are especially connected to their ethnicity; physical appearance and ancestral continent of origin.
While some other ethnic/racial groups, are defined as a “people” by reason of their collective experiences of discrimination and persecution, African descendants are not regarded as such.
The dominant ethnic groups, governments, as well as international organizations have thus far refused to recognize Afrodescendants as a particular “people” thus hey find themselves unprotected by relevant international human rights legislation
Instead the practice is promoted of regarding African descendants as an undefined ethnic sub-group community within the broader concept of indigenous peoples, although they are not counted or actually officially represented as such.
While the region's indigenous population,(approx. 40 million) increasingly have taken on an active political role --despite challenges-- in comparison, African descendants have had extremely limited political power and have also lacked organizations to represent their collective interests in the face of continuing dispossession of lands, destruction of cultures and impoverishment.
A study conducted by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted that the Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean population have a limited presence in government and 90 percent live below the poverty line. They have access to only the most poorly paid jobs, and have low levels of formal education. They also face intense discrimnation based almost entirely on the color of their skin and their ethnicity.
This document produced by the Center for Human, Civil and Autonomous Rights (CEDEHCA) of Nicaragua, examines the issues of invisibility and marginalization of African descendants in the international arena using the specific perspective of the Nicaraguan reality.
It calls for full recognition of African descendants as 'a people' and a reform of the structures that limit their effective inclusion within the political, economic and social life of their countries.
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