Dialogues on the Decade of Afro-Descendants and Agenda 2030 at the Fourth International Colloquium
On the laptop screen, Dr. Yuri Zapata, vice-chancellor general of URACCAN, at the time of his participation.
Neylin Calderon

Diversity of thoughts for the same purpose: Global advocacy on Afros

"We bring an ancestral history," said Carlos Alberto González, director and founder of FUNECOROBLES, of Colombia, and coordinator of Thematic Table 5, with which began this second day of the IV International Colloquium of Afro-descendants, where panelists from Nicaragua, Colombia and Honduras discussed the Afro-Descendant Decade and the 2030 Agenda: An outstanding commitment for Afro-descendant peoples.

The table was in charge of the panelists: MA. Yuri Zapata, vice-chancellor general of URACCAN; Marcia Santacruz, President of the Friends Corporation of UNESCO-Colombia; and Gregoria Jiménez, President of the Organization for Community Ethnic Development (ODECO) of Honduras, who through a glorious debate argued the main challenges and challenges of the Afro-Descendant Decade.

A look at the Decade from URACCAN

Zapata began with his presentation arguing that in Latin America approximately 111 million Afro-descendants live, representing just over 21% of the total population and that this means that "there is a considerable presence of African people with their own culture, worldviews and traditions".

Similarly, it focused its address on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, bearing in mind that the International Decade for Afro-descendants was adopted in 2015 until 2024 and proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/237, this means that "the United Nations, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors join forces and take concrete action for Afro-descendants in a spirit of recognition, justice and development," Zapata said.

Master Yuri, assured that the issues of greatest concern to Afro-descendants are the Non-Recognition, Non-Justice and Non-Development of that Decade, among the mentions by the academic was, "Not ratification of the Afro-descendant Decade by most countries, which does not make their public policies binding; much fewer specific public policies that lead to their collective well-being in a particular way, structural violence, bleaching in institutions, alignment with the quo statuses maintained by imposed societies."

It also addressed the issue of racism and social discrimination, which are sometimes seen in a silent and stealthy way by society at large, "the term black is still used with negative connotation in the language of the media which does not contribute to intercutural relations between peoples," Zapata said.

New themes on the Decade's agenda in the context of the pandemic

Marcia Santacruz began by thanking the Avocenic Organization and URACCAN for creating these spaces that are conducive to expressing their feelings and thoughts; he emphasized that URACCAN played a very important role in the Third Colloquium, because it was there to ratify the rights of Afro-descendants.

Santacruz assured that now, with the theme of the Covid-19 pandemic, all agenda items must change, because new challenges must be posed for Afro-descendants, since the opening of this pandemic, "the processes of collective action as Afro-descendants" have been consolidated, he said.

Likely, now Covid-19 has had a different look at the "recognition of social, cultural, territorial elements that identify us as Afro-African groups, with this pandemic makes the agenda of the Decade spaces that promote the role of women", she contributed.

In turn, it stated that one of the most essential themes for this 2030 agenda, with the new context of Covid-19, was food sovereignty, the environment, sustainability and, above all, the importance of global connectivity for Afro-descendant communities and indigenous peoples.

Afro-descendant colloquies, a space for ratification of rights

Gregoria Jiménez explained that, from Honduras, they have been concerned that many of the challenges proposed by the Afro-Descendant Decade have stagnated because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but assured that since the National Congress a law has been proposed to bring the action plan by Afro-Hondurans to life.

In addition, Jimenez argued that from his country there has been very little political will to meet the demands of Afro-descendant communities, "it takes a lot of political advocacy."

From Honduras, "there is no political will for the current president to put on his political agendas issues that have to do with the Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples of the country," Jiménez said.

Finally, the three panellists concluded that the topics addressed in the decades and colloquies are sensitive to the recognition of Afro-descendants, "they are afraid of collective territories, such as spaces of Afro-descendant identity and history (...); Colloquiums have been conducive to putting the sore finger on issues like racism," said Marcia Santacruz.

It is worth mentioning that the I International Colloquium of Afro-descendants was held in 2013 in Sao Luis Maranhao, Brazil, the II Colloquium was Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico in 2015, then the III Colloquium took place in 2017, in the cities of Bogota, Santa Martha and Calí-Colombia and in 2020, Avocenic and URACCAN hold the IV Colloquium with headquarters in the city of Bilwi- Puerto Cabezas , Northern Caribbean of Nicaragua, and with special guests from several countries of the world, through the Zoom virtual platform.