WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
22 Apr 2015 | Video

Will Afro-Colombians Gain Better Representation in Post-Conflict Colombia?

Heriberto Arrechea Banguera,

Co-author of Colombia’s 2012 Equal Opportunities for the Afro-Colombian Population Bill  and Afro-Colombian Congressman for Black Communities, 2010-2014
Marino Cordoba,
President of the Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) and International Coordinator, Afro-Colombian Peace Council (CONPA)
Francisco Hernandez,
Founder of the Association of Municipalities with Afro-descendant Populations in the Caribbean Coast and leading lawyer in the “Lena and Johana Acosta Sisters” Racism Lawsuit
Luis Ernesto Olave Valencia,
Leads the “Afro-Colombian Seats are for Afros” Campaign and Coordinator for the Afro-descendant Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (RedLad)
Moderated by Carlos Quesada, director of Race & Equality 
1:00 p.m. – 2:00pm
Thursday, April 23, 2015

1666 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20009
For press inquiries, please email [email protected] or call (202) 797-2171.

Colombia’s 1991 Constitution, which came about due to the Constituent Assembly born out of peace talks with M-19 guerrillas, the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT), the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), and the Quintin Lame movement, declared Colombia to be a pluri-ethnic society. It paved the way for legislation that protected Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities’ collective, individual, and political rights. As a result, these groups were granted two permanent seats in the Colombian Congress with the purpose of representing their respective interests.

In 2013, two “mestizos” ran as candidates for the Afro-Colombian seats with the support of an Afro-Colombian group called the Ebony Foundation of Colombia (FUNECO). They won the election through questionable means, including with alleged support from a local powerbroker known as “La Gata,” who is currently serving 40 years in jail for links to paramilitarism. Since then, Afro-Colombian activists have taken legal action, arguing that these congressional seats are meant for Afro-Colombians. In this April 23 discussion, panelists will present their views on this situation and what mechanisms can be put in place to guarantee a political space for Afro-Colombians as the country transitions into a post-conflict era.