Race and Poverty: Interagency Consultation on Afro–Latin Americans
The papers in this volume were prepared for a conference sponsored by the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Inter-American Dialogue. The one-day meeting, held at the World Bank on June 19, 2000, brought together prominent leaders and analysts of Afro-Latin American communities to discuss the legal, political, and socioeconomic issues confronting these populations, and review various national and local experiences in addressing those issues.
Although disagreements emerged on many specific questions, there was consensus among the conference participants and sponsors on the importance of the meeting. They considered it particularly significant that the discussions underscored the long-standing neglect by governments and international institutions regarding issues related to race in Latin America. There was special emphasis on the way these issues are related to widespread poverty, social exclusion, and income inequality in various countries. Participants agreed that these questions demanded substantially greater attention for reasons of equity and fairness, political and social stability, and long-term economic, social, and civil progress. The conference was part of a growing range of efforts by the World Bank, IDB, and the Dialogue to increase awareness inside and outside their organizations on the relationship between race and social, economic, and political exclusion.
At the conclusion of the meeting the sponsoring institutions—joined by the Ford Foundation—decided to established the Inter-Agency Consultation on Race and Poverty in Latin America (IAC). This entity will serve as a continuing mechanism to help the four institutions better understand and more effectively address the special problems of the approximately 150 million Latin Americans of African descent— including issues of pervasive racial discrimination, extremely high rates of poverty and illiteracy, and limited access to education, health, and other public services. The IAC will help the participating institutions to share information and analysis on the situation of Afro-Latin Americans, stay well informed about each others’ programs and plans, conduct joint activities, and maintain a continuing dialogue with Afro-Latin American leaders, institutions, and communities.
An executive-director will be appointed to coordinate the IAC with the support of an advisory committee of about a dozen members. Members of the committee will include leaders from the Afro-Latin American community, African-American leaders from the United States, and prominent analysts of race-related issues in Latin America. The group will be politically diverse and will comprise a range of nationalities.
The Inter-American Dialogue’s Congressional Members Working Group met on April 9, 2008 to discuss challenges facing Afro-descendants in Latin America. The event featured Sir Clare Roberts of the Inter-American Commission, Dr. Marcelo Paixão of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Ambassador Antonio Patriota of Brazil. It was co-hosted by Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Jerry Weller (R-IL) and co-sponsored by the Inter-American Foundation.
On March 26, 2021, the Dialogue hosted the online event “Afro-descendants: Striving for Equality in Latin America” in partnership with the Inter-American Foundation (IAF). Participants focused on addressing the pre- and post-Covid challenges and opportunities facing Afro-descendants in the region, including access to higher education, public office, corporate boardrooms, economic opportunity, formal employment, clean water, and quality health services.