LAUNCH OF ANTI-RACISM CAMPAIGN IN URUGUAY IN THE YEAR OF AFRO-DESCENDANTS
Pictured (l-r) Ambassador Dawie Jacobs (Charge D’Affaires), Mr Anibal Pintos, and Mr Nestor Silva (Director of Communication Afro-Mundo)
The Mundo-Afro organizations of Afro-descendants in Uruguay launched an anti-racism campaign, to coincide with the Year of Afro-Descendants, on 29 September 2011 in the municipal building in Montevideo where they have their offices and cultural centre. The launch was organized by the Mundo-Afro organizations with the support of the House of Deputies and the Directorate of Human Rights of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The event was well attended and participants included members of parliament, government and municipal officials and representatives of Uruguayan companies.
The aims of the event were to present the suggested programme of action of the “Campaign of Communication against Racism”, with human rights as the central theme, and to establish a dialogue between the Afro Descendants and business on the social responsibility of Uruguayan businesses and the exercising of the rights of Afro-Descendants.
As introduction to the presentation of the Campaign against Racism, the context in which Afro-Descendants find themselves in Latin America was referred to: of the more than 150 million Afro-Descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 50% percent live below the poverty line. Afro-Descendants in Uruguay constitute about 10% of the population, mostly concentrated in the Province/Department of Rivera in the north close to the Brazilian border, but are well-connected and active, as once again reflected through this campaign. Despite being perhaps better integrated into society than in most other countries, they are still facing socio-economic challenges, although speakers mentioned that much is being done under the current government to improve the situation of Afro-Descendants in Uruguay.
There are a number of Afro-Descendant organizations in Uruguay, some working together under the banner of Mundo-Afro organizations, but others preferring to act independently, thereby weakening to some extent their potential to influence their socio-economic situation.
The essence of the “Communication Campaign against Racism” is to create a culture of human rights and an awareness of racism with slogans such as: “The colour of your skin does not say who you are – racism does”. The message will be spread through talk shops, TV and radio adverts, Internet, bill-boards and T-shirts. A related stated aim in the medium term is also to create an own identity for Afro-Descendants living in Uruguay.
In his presentation Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Charge D’Affaires, provided a broader perspective of the meaning of the Year of the Afro-Descendants within the African context and the importance attached to the global community of Afro-Descendants, as also reflected by the recognition of the African Diaspora by the AU as the sixth region of the Continent. He congratulated the Afro-Descendants in Uruguay for their active and constructive participation in the social and political spheres of society, despite being a small community. He described the level of awareness that exists in Uruguay about the conditions of the Afro-Descendants and the lively interaction between the leaders of the Afro-Descendants and the government, also on provincial and municipal level, as very positive.
The Year of the Afro-Descendant population provides an excellent platform, not only to promote the cause of Afro-Descendants in Uruguay, but also in the African and global context and the Embassy has been actively involved in a number of events that incorporated the Year of Afro-Descendants.
SA EMBASSY, MONTEVIDEO.