Essential Afro-Latino/ Caribbean Current Events

Yehuda

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Rosa Solís: the story of the “queen” who confronted Francia Márquez

16 September, 2022
By Alfredo Molano Jimeno


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Rosa Emilia Solís is one of the Afro-descendant leaders with the most power in decision-making bodies before the government. Photo: Yamith Mariño

The woman who confronted the vice president in the commemoration of the 29th anniversary of Law 70 is a powerful Afro-descendant leader who drags a controversial story.

It happened in the traditional Gobelins Hall of the Palacio de Nariño. In the enclosure of the expensive French tapestries there had never been so many Afro-descendants. Vice President Francia Márquez led the celebration of Law 70. The act had begun with the presentation of the vice-presidential aides: a colonel from the Navy, one from the Army and two captains from the Air Force and the Police. All of them Afro-Colombians. An eloquent image that showed the presence at the center of power of a historically marginalized people. Suddenly, a tall, thin woman, dressed in a long skirt and turban, walked elegantly to the microphone and just before turning to the audience, stared at the vice president with a reproachful look.

“To be honest, Rosita Emilia Solís has no duty, nor any responsibility, to be in this hypocritical event”, said the woman born in Guapi, Cauca, in 1952.

The atmosphere of celebration froze. Solís took a breath and introduced himself:

“I am beautifully 70 years old and I declare myself the aunt of our vice president, because women can afford to give advice once we are 70 years old. I am not a part of the elderly, I am a beautiful old woman, and I would be wrong to come here with hypocrisy”.

Rosa Solís was invited to speak as a representative of one of the meeting instances between the government and the black communities. She launched a virulent speech of more than ten minutes in which she always referred to Francia as “niece”, without having any family ties. She said that she, Rosita Solís, “is not a nobody”, that she considers herself a “queen” and that she “does not accept the speeches of unity of black people”.

“According to many people I am the devil, I am a monster and they come to me here to speak of unity. I will never agree with unity. Who benefits from unity? In unity, only the one who has the money and the one who writes reigns. Who is going to make unity come about? I accept no one, I am not in it and I am not going to unite with anyone”, vehemently said the leader of a significant number of community councils in Valle del Cauca, where Solís extended her power by sponsoring communities between Buenaventura and the south of Chocó so they could found these councils and request collective land titles. To some extent, division has been her strategy.

In this way, she has been creating a social base of support and has been maintained for 20 years as the main interlocutor of the black communities with the governments to carry out the so-called prior consultations, both for infrastructure works and for bills and constitutional reforms. In this way, Solís became the most powerful Afro-descendant leader in the country. Francia Márquez, on the other hand, comes from the Process of Black Communities (Proceso de Comunidades Negras; PCN), an organization antagonistic to Rosa Solís whose practices they have denounced for years. For this reason, those who know the old problem were not surprised by Solís' rudeness to the vice president.

Manuel Palacios Blandón, a member — like Solís — of the Consultative Commission, denounced alleged irregularities committed by her. In a letter from 15 days ago addressed to the Minister of the Interior, Alfonso Prada, he asks him to suspend the election of a commission to study the development plan for black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal and Palanquero communities (CNARP) 2022-2026 because its “autonomy” has not been guaranteed and “there are people who are restricting the participation of delegates under all kinds of threats”.

Palacios affirms that Solís “perversely and corruptly forces” herself to be delegated to select the logistics operator for the plan and describes her as the “figure that buys and sells her brothers” and whose management is typical of “endogenous slavery that suffocates and leaves the Afro-descendant process without oxygen”. Palacios says that the Consultative period ends on October 11 and that some of its current members will be re-elected thanks to “vote buying” and that Rosa will maintain her power.

Palacios is not the only one who denounces irregular practices by Solís, but he is one of the few who dare to do so publicly. Different Afro-descendant leaders consulted by CAMBIO explained that, between 1996 and 1998, Rosa advised the creation of more than 20 community councils, several of them located in the Anchicayá river basin, “which she then fragmented into eight community councils”. The stories indicate that the history of Rosa Solís in the black movement began thanks to the fact that in the second half of the 90s, Otilia Dueñas, general manager of the Colombian Institute for Agrarian Reform (Instituto Colombiano de la Reforma Agraria; INCORA), gave her a contract to educate black communities on Law 70 in the Pacific.

“With that contract, she goes to Buenaventura and disrupts the organizational processes that the PCN had been building and creates community councils in different neighborhoods. That's why she has so much strength. While a community council promoted by the PCN brings together several communities, she creates a community council for each community. And each community council is one vote. Thanks to this, she has a majority of the votes of the community councils in Valle del Cauca and that has allowed her to be re-elected indefinitely as a member of the Board of Directors of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Valle del Cauca (Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca; CVC) on behalf of the black communities of the Valley. She will also be re-elected indefinitely to the board of directors of the Pacific Environmental Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones Ambientales del Pacífico). These bodies are the ones that, in turn, elect the directors of these entities. And the directors are the ones who assign the resources”, says one of our sources.

Hoovert Carabalí, legal representative of the Community Council of the Black Communities of La Plata Bahía Málaga, is another Afro-descendant leader who has confronted Solís in political and judicial instances. In 2011, when the government of Juan Manuel Santos began processing the rural development bill and another one to reform the Regional Autonomous Corporations, Carabalí requested the suspension of Solís as a representative of black communities before the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (Instituto Colombiano de Desarrollo Rural; INCODER) for being involved in irregularities in her management, to title just under 3,000 hectares to the Gamboa Community Council, of which Solís was — at the same time — legal representative. The case remains bogged down since that time, but the complaint continues to exist.

That is why Carabalí is asking for the revocation of the collective land titles of two community councils created by Rosa Solís: Gamboa and La Caucana, two neighborhoods in Buenaventura. “In 2006, she created the Gamboa Community Council and the Caucana Community Council, under illegal conditions because there was no connotation of a black community in those areas. They did not comply with constitutional or legal precepts: they were not vacant, rural or coastal areas. They were areas of public interest. The councils were created illegally and she managed to unite with the mayor's office so that it agreed to her claims”, says the Buenaventura leader who has denounced her before the Prosecutor's Office and the Comptroller's Office.

The power of Rosa Solís in the spaces of Afro-descendant representation is an irrefutable reality and will be the first obstacle for the vice president to carry out the mission of the president of the republic. More so when her duties will put them face to face in the different negotiation scenarios. The president commissioned Francia to regulate Law 70, preside over the Buenaventura Development Fund, guarantee the 2017 strike agreements, coordinate the Todos Somos Pazífico Fund and be the guarantor of dialogue with ethnic communities, instances where Rosa Solís has built a kingdom she rules at will.

When consulted by CAMBIO, Rosa Solís refused to give statements and asked that the questions be sent in writing through WhatsApp to one of her collaborators. She was sent 9 questions about the accusations made about her by the sources consulted for this article, to which she replied: “I appreciate your interest in knowing my answer to the questions sent, however, I consider them accusations; therefore, after reading your article, I will reserve the right to advance the legal actions that may arise in defense of my good name, reoutation and honor”.

Rosa Solís: the story of the “queen” who confronted Francia Márquez
 

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João Paulo Rodrigues: "Brazil has a great responsibility in Latin America"

The national leader of the MST spoke with Brasil de Fato about the main issues surrounding the Brazilian election

Arturo Hartmann, Igor Carvalho and José Eduardo Bernardes
Translated by: Flávia Chacon
Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) | 06 September 2022 | 11:46


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MST national leader, João Paulo Rodrigues. Photo: Guilherme Santos/Sul21

João Paulo Rodrigues is a member of the national coordination of the Landless Workers' Movement (MST) and represents the entity in the coordination of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's (PT) campaign for the presidency.

In an interview with Brasil de Fato, he talks about the characteristics of these general elections. For him, they will have less weight from the internet than they did in 2018. However, he highlights the importance of money: this is the first election with the secret budget in effect. Other topics approached were the effects of international scenarios on Brazil, the role Lula could play in Latin America and also the challenges that Bolsonaro imposed on the popular camp.



Brasil de Fato: What is your analysis of the election scenario for the Left? What are the chances for Lula?

João Paulo Rodrigues
: I am very optimistic. And it is due to one fact, the economy. Not because of alliances, or crises, or anything else, but because Bolsonaro made a bet on the economy that left the people poorer, unemployed and bankrupt. This defuses any other strategy. Period. It doesn't matter if the guy trusts God or goes to church. Nope. People want to know: "will I get a salary?", "will I have something to eat?", "will I have a job?".

Can you imagine, as much as we'll have people receiving Emergency Aid until Christmas, etc., I'm talking about an amount of 50 million people who live on extremely precarious food situations. Or even people who don't know what they will eat. Between those who have nothing to eat and those who eat poorly, we have 100 million. Consider half, 50 million. It is a lot of people. For every 4 Brazilians, 1 has nothing to eat. This issue embarrasses the middle class and causes indignation in those who experience this situation.

The right comes to this election with a high number of businessmen candidates. There are also many militant policemen, mainly in the PL (Bolsonaro’s party), and people linked to agribusiness. How do you imagine the profile of those elected by the right will be?

I haven't done a deep analysis yet. It would take more time. There is a lot of guesswork there. I think that the previous campaign, from 2018, gave priority to the internet and the so called "digital influencer". It elected who was prominent on the right and so on.

I think that this election is now very much tied to money. It's a different election and it's going to be very much tied to sectors that benefit from the secret budget more than anything. And sectors that were supported by Evangelical groups, also with a lot of resources. So this opposition parliamentary caucus will be made up of money. The one with the most money will win.

I don't believe it will be composed by digital influencers. I believe that even the policemen will come out defeated. They no longer have the strength they had in 2018. And if you look at the elected policemen, they haven't shown what they came for so far. Even the right wing and their candidates... what was the greatest achievement that the police had with the support of the Army? The police that had conquests were the officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force and some sectors of the Military Police. The great majority of the police and the Armed Forces are all more impoverished now than they were before. So I don't consider them a problem.

Now, the businessmen are a problem. This sector is going to elect a lot of people because they have money, which is essential right now. They have the machine.

Do you believe the external scenario could have an influence in Brazilian elections?

We must always be on the lookout for Americans, the moves they make around the world. I think it's a risk factor, always. US experiences in Latin America have always been dubious although this Democrat administration has been very careful.

Colombia is an example. They made a mistake with Bolivia and Venezuela, they lost badly. So I think that they have realized that there is no point in trying to strike a coup right now in Latin America.

Now, US disputes — sometimes with China, sometimes with Russia — are always a problem. They can affect our economy, which can lead to interference in the price of fuel and food. And you can have in the middle of the elections a new international conflict that disrupts everything. This is the first wind blowing in our direction.

The second is the behavior of Latin America. It seems to me that the region has a great novelty, which is an organization of several countries aligned to the progressive movement. This is new, from Mexico to Argentina. And this can influence Brazil. I am excited that we can have the Latin American winds coming to us in the next period.

Brazil has a great responsibility in Latin America, because of its size, its economic and political relevance. But I think the country will be even more relevant under Lula. We are missing international leaders with the ability to dialogue and convince, with moral authority. Lula has this power. He is a great figure. Lula's tour of Europe as a precandidate and the way they received him in France, Germany and Spain demonstrates his political size. So I think that today Lula is one of the few people in the world who has the ability to convene things, or to contain some of the "foolishness" out there. Something Bolsonaro — and nobody knows who he is — can't do. So let's see how Lula's position will be on the international issue and how the other countries will behave.

I think we should be vigilant over these elections. There will be a large number of international observers here. I reckon even the UN will come.

What role should the MST play in an eventual Lula government?

The main task of the MST in this next period is, first of all, the organization from the base of the "landless". We cannot lose focus. The organization of the "landless" in this next period goes first through helping to organize the Landless encamped families, who fight for land and agrarian reform.

Then it goes through organizing the families that already have their land, in order to advance a more organized agenda of agroecology and healthy food production.

This, for us, is an essential topic because it demands designing public policies, fighting with agribusiness and having a new agenda, that goes through credit, marketing policies, technical assistance, supplies... these are very important things.

And last but not least, are the other public policies related to the countryside but not necessarily to agrarian reform. For example, electricity is not an agrarian reform policy. However, without energy, agrarian reform does not work.

And I say, jokingly, that Wi-Fi is needed. Because no one lives in the countryside anymore without an internet policy for youth, for those who live there, to sell their production.

What a future Lula government would look like?

I think that the Lula government will be representative of society. It will be a government that will make some pacts to have governance involving the National Congress. And I think Lula will have to build a majority in society only then to take a step forward. The issue is that it will be a four-year government, according to Lula.

So we can't waste time. In the first hundred days, we have to start with everything. Show what we came for. And in this sense, there will be a combination of the symbology of the agenda, whether agrarian reform will be a priority or not, and the institutional design to implement it.

For example, we have INCRA (National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform)... will it be autonomous from the Ministry of Agriculture again? Today it is linked to the Ministry of Agriculture. Will he create a new Ministry of Agrarian Reform to organize the production? Will he appoint a Minister of Agriculture more aligned with us than with agribusiness? This institutional design, I think it is still too early to propose. It will depend on the composition of the 1st and 2nd rounds, and the support that Lula will have to promote changes.
 

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And for the broader popular camp, what kind of space will it have in a possible Lula administration?

We are striving to have a programmatic elaboration, from the MST, the left, the PT, so that the government understands that, in the first place, the Brazilian agro-industry has a lot to do with agrarian reform and we can make a tactical alliance with that sector. With a simple goal: to produce food for the Brazilian people.

What we don't have an agreement with and what we are going to fight against is agribusiness, which is not the same thing as agro-industry. Agribusiness is the one that takes the commodities — the grains — and exports them. It doesn't have the patience to industrialize anything here, contrary to the agro-industry. The agro-industry has an asset of very large production and industrialization and a very strong chain. This one of our fights. We do not want to dialogue with the export sector.

They don't need the state. They have the companies and all the infrastructure to protect themselves. On the contrary, with the Kandir Law (from 1996, exempting companies from paying taxes over commodities exportation), they generate absurd damage to the country, because it applies to iron commodities, grains, to eucalyptus, also a little to meat and most of soy. Well, there we have a divergence.

Our second divergence is with the unproductive large estate. These are the most aggressive. They have, among other things, land grabs, and deforestation. And now they are armed by Bolsonaro's arms law.

They will be two problematic sectors in the coming period. That is why our alliance must be with family farming, landless wage earners and agroindustry. Who from the agroindustry? Those with less than 500 hectares, that produce fruits, integrated, horticulture they produce to supply agriculture... Brazilian food. This crowd represents 70% of production in Brazil.

What is our difficulty? The fact that they identify themselves as agribusiness, from the ideological standpoint. The son of a bytch has 5 hectares of land, has high funding because it is integrated, let's say, with pig production in Santa Catarina, gets up to R$1 million loans per year and thinks like he's a part of agribusiness. Son of a bytch, you are not part of agribusiness. You do not export one pound of anything. You are one of us, industrialized Brazilian agriculture. With you we can unite.

The government needs to extend its plan according to this perspective. Will it work? It is very difficult, but it seems to us that the government cannot make pacts with the unproductive latifundium. They are a tragedy, a retardation. Agribusiness is a tragedy for the environment and for the national generation of jobs and income.

What are the challenges that Bolsonaro, or what we call Bolsonarism, imposed for the popular camp?

Bolsonarism achieved a great feat we have not achieved before which is to transform actions of Bolsonarism into a political culture. The other day I used, as an example, weapons.

We lost the plebiscite on weapons. It was an important fight. Today is different, Bolsonaro made weapons a cultural component. As if to say that every Brazilian smokes, drinks cachaça, likes forró and weapons. Period. It became an element of the culture of our people. How are you going to question the people's right to have a gun? No, it became something else. This happened on our bases. There are people in the countryside who claim their right to buy a gun. It is not that they cultivate arms policy, they cultivate the right to have a gun or something similar. This is something that Bolsonarism created.

Another issue is that Bolsonarism has taken sectors of ours to another discourse, which makes you think the guy is right-wing. For example, the Evangelical churches. Even those in our settlements sympathize with some agendas of Bolsonarism. Now, how do we approach the churches, where are ours, poor people who participated in the struggle but have a speech aligned with the other side? It's a problem.

The third difficulty is to deal with the idea that it is better not to have social rights, like labor laws, and "keep my job". How do you address this with the "uberized" guys who say that they no longer have a boss and now they are happy because they have the power of choice? This became a political culture, it will not be easy to overcome it.

If I could systematize the difficulties we face with Bolsonarism, is that he co-opted a discourse about work. He co-opted the discourse of culture, of the people's way of life. I mean, he raised an idea about that.

And, finally, he confused the religious people, that historically were among the poor and relegated of this country, and today they still are, but with ideas from the right and Bolsonarism.

What is your analysis of the current political situation in Brazil?

I think there is a generalized crisis in the organized sector. This includes the union movement, the parties, everyone. And I suspect that the MST is one of the organizations that best knew how to handle these crises.

We have a differential in relation to other organizations. We have territories, we have schools, training centers, settlements and we have materiality, called "organic foods".

Other movements and the union movement's relationship with society has been greatly weakened under this organizational crisis. So the MST — I say this with some care — is a successful organization in the context of this crisis and of the economy. We had no internal ruptures. We were not repressed as we thought we would be by Bolsonaro. On the contrary, we came out of a pandemic delivering more than 6 thousand tons of food. We came out of a pandemic with the lowest number of deaths in the territories of the landless.

Bolsonaro did not annihilate us as we imagined. Moreover, the organization — which will soon be 40 years old — came out of this with a level of maturity that gave us peace of mind to occupy estates anywhere in the country, to confront a National Force, as happened in Bahia, without going back, and in parallel launch the film about Marighella [Brazilian communist politician turned guerrilla fighter], made in our bases, with a lot of artists from TV Globo. Or to launch a fundraising program called "Finapop" with the famous businessmen of Av. Faria Lima.

So it's a novelty from a certain perspective. We make football matches that bring together hundreds of personalities, like Lula and Chico Buarque.

So the MST was able to act on several fronts that are required of a popular movement today. And the symbol is the MST cap. We sold more caps this year than in the last ten years. This represents solidarity and a political position shared with the rest of the organized left.

That's why I think this is our best moment in the last 10 years. And the main thing is not to have a defeat in this next period. A defeat for Lula would mean the deflation of this political climate. A victory for Lula would mean doubling the spirit of our troops and the prospect of future struggles that improve the lives of our people.

Edited by: Flávia Chacon

João Paulo Rodrigues: "Brazil has a great responsibility in Latin America"
 

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“A lot of what was done has been scrapped”, says former minister Matilde Ribeiro

Victor Lacerda
11 July, 2022 | 16:51


In a conversation with Alma Preta Jornalismo, the first minister of the Secretariat for Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Secretaria Nacional de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial, SEPPIR) takes stock of the dismantling of the governing body; data reveal lack of budgetary prioritization for the portfolio under the Bolsonaro administration

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Matilde Ribeiro, ex-Minister of the Secretariat for Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality. Photo: Pedro Borges/Alma Preta

In recent years, the National Policy for the Promotion of Racial Equality has suffered budget cuts, a significant reduction since 2019. According to Matilde Ribeiro, former chief minister of the Secretariat for Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR), the Bolsonaro administration has not prioritized racial issues and ends up weakening important devices for advancing the achievements of the Black Movement.

In a conversation with Alma Preta Jornalismo, the former minister pointed out that “from the point of view of the institutionalization of racial politics, at this point, much of what has been done has been scrapped and put down. In fact, the secretariat's structure itself was losing institutional strengthening, considering that it started as a secretariat with the status of a ministry, then became a ministry, but it declined. Even before Bolsonaro, during the Temer government, it was demoted to a national secretariat, as it continues to this day”.

In order to face ethnic-racial inequalities in the country, SEPPIR was established in 2003 by Law No. 10,678, a win for the black movement that enabled the creation of executive orders that also resulted in the National Council for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Conselho Nacional de Promoção da Igualde Racial, CNPIR), the National Policy for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Política Nacional de Promoção da Igualdade Racial, PNPIR) and the National Plan for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Plano Nacional de Promoção da Igualdade Racial, PLANAPIR).

In the same year, Matilde Ribeiro was appointed chief minister, a position she held for longer compared to the other four ministers who also headed the portfolio. In charge of the secretariat, she defended racial quotas as a way to democratize access to higher education, considering the creation of vacant spots for blacks and Indians as a way of expanding opportunities for people in vulnerable situations.

She explains that “the secretariat came as a result of the Black Movement's struggle for historical reparations, especially for black women. We saw it as an achievement and an opportunity to institutionalize our issues, propose resolutions and advance the issue of racial equality. In addition to the developments of SEPPIR after the decrees that made the national council and the national plan possible and the institution of the Racial Equality Statute, which gives the guidelines to the State, we had several other important contributions, such as prioritization of quilombola agendas when I was minister, for example”.

SEPPIR's contributions

In its first years with Ribeiro at the post, the secretariat managed to map, together with social movements and articulations, about 6 thousand quilombos through the ʽBrasil Quilombolaʼ program. In addition to structuring the project internally — being responsible for monitoring public policies aimed at quilombola peoples — the secretariat was responsible for creating links with the Ministry of Agrarian Development and the Palmares Foundation. According to the former minister, this ʽtriangleʼ enabled greater coordination of quilombola policies.

In health, Matilde highlights the secretariat's ongoing work to institute health policies aimed especially at the black population, especially black women, agents of the struggle since even before the secretariat was founded.

In the sphere of education, the former minister highlights the implementation of Law No. 10,639/03, a measure that forced the teaching of African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture. Matilde Ribeiro also mentions the importance of the body in the internal articulation, coordinated by the Ministry of Education (Ministério da Educação, MEC), but with support from SEPPIR, in the implementation of the Quota Law, which completes ten years this year.

“There were several contributions, including giving us a perspective of direct building with Africa, particularly the Lusophone countries. Since the beginning of my administration, more than 20 years ago, we have tried to ratify a new instrument for proposing equality policies. Together with the Organization of American States (OAS), we managed to sign a commitment, just this year, with the national convention that proposes that countries, through their public tools, be against all forms of racial discrimination”, she points out.

“I believe this is the biggest advance in years, but it was not conceived — only ratified — in the current administration. Even with the secretariat, we conquered this slowly. Now, without institutional strength and with a low budget, evaluate what comes from this setback to be resolved in subsequent years. In my view, the logic of institutionalizing racial policies in the Lula and Dilma administrations was lost with Temer and consequently with Bolsonaro”, adds former minister Matilde Ribeiro.

Low budget and ʽscrappingʼ

Data prove what is defended by the former minister of SEPPIR about the current government's performance with the racial agenda in recent years, which manifests its lack of prioritization through low investments. This is what the dossier carried out by the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies (Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos, INESC), ʽA Conta do Desmonteʼ points out.

In 2021 alone, (according to the survey), the authorized resource for the racial portfolio — at the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights (Ministério da Mulher, Família e Direitos Humanos, MMFDH) — was only R$ 3 million. The amount was intended for the functioning of the National Council for the Promotion of Racial Equality and the National Council of Traditional Peoples and Communities (Conselho Nacional de Povos e Comunidades Tradicionais, CNPCT), in addition to being used for the institutional strengthening of state and municipal bodies to combat racism and promote racial equality.

Despite the low amount, the government was not able to use it: only R$ 2 million were spent, 66% of the total available, half of which was used to pay expenses from previous years.

However, the study also points out that, as the government does not finance the racial equality policy, Brazil continues to have the worst indicators for the black population: more than 20,000 young black people are killed in the name of the war on drugs every year. Regarding the femicide of black women, there was an increase of 54%, while the rate of white women fell by 9.8%. The black population earns just over half (57.4%) of the income received by white workers (IBGE, 2014) and quilombola territories have a rate of 47.8% of severe food insecurity (CONSEA, 2012).

According to data from the Transparency Portal and analyzed by the national media ʽGender and Numbersʼ, the MMFDH covenants and agreements totaled just over half a billion reais, but only 1.3% of this amount (R$ 6.5 million) was intended for policies to promote racial equality.

“Given the data, it is possible to say that there was a scrap and freezing of policies to promote racial equality. Citing as an example the area that I followed more closely, it is possible to identify numerous complaints from the National Coordination of Articulation of Quilombos that the previous work, with actions aimed at mapped quilombola communities, has been super weakened and this is symptomatic of the current government”, says Matilde Ribeiro.

A forecast for the next government

On the hypothesis that ex-president Lula wins the next electoral race, the ex-minister defines the next term as a “new, tensioning beginning”. She highlights that, for devices that dialogue with the promotion of racial equality, a reality will be the low budget for implementing actions and maintaining what has already been achieved in recent years.

Matilde argues that, for any area of public policy, it is essential to have its own budget, and this was de-characterized by SEPPIR and the racial guidelines councils, which will be synonymous with a new struggle to gain space in annual planning.

Faced with the historical need to prioritize racial issues and the setback with the freezes, the former minister still argues that, for the coming years, the logic that racial policy has to be transversal and present among all ministries should be considered.

She concludes by saying that “this will be demanded by social articulations. Today, unlike 2003, it is possible to weave more details on the construction of public policies aimed at racial equality and its intersectionalities. We must hold the government accountable, but we must also understand that the pullback from the formation of inclusive policies is huge and issues of vulnerability issues have taken shape. For the next rulers, the recovery will be difficult”.

“A lot of what was done has been scrapped”, says former minister Matilde Ribeiro
 

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“We are under a white supremacist government”, says MNU's Yedo Ferreira

At 88 years old, Yedo Ferreira remains active in the fight against racism with the development of a report on the current scenario in the country; he believes the black movement could be more revolutionary

By Pedro Borges
Thursday, 02 June, 2022 | 11:17


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Yedo Ferreira at his home in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Pedro Borges/Alma Preta

After the founding of the Unified Black Movement (Movimento Negro Unificado, MNU) in the city of São Paulo, on July 7, 1978, the organization underwent a process of expansion and consolidation of nuclei in different regions of the country. A few months later, on September 9, Yedo Ferreira and a group of people held the entity's first public event in the capital of Rio de Janeiro: an assembly to approve the first charter of principles and the statute of the MNU.

At the age of 88, Yedo Ferreira is preparing a report to present to the MNU to discuss with the national coordination the current scenario experienced by the country, the practices of violence against black people, and guide mobilization and denunciation actions in both the national and international scope.

A resident of Marechal Hermes, a neighborhood in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, in a house decorated with Catholic symbols and portraits of past political activities, he presented to Alma Preta Jornalismo a diagnosis of the situation experienced in Brazil.

“I see that we are under a white supremacist government, of neo-Nazi tendencies, because it is not just the president of the Republic, but the ideological group to which he belongs”. He believes that, although conservative sectors have historically been against an explicit confrontation, Bolsonaro represents the desire of part of society for widespread combat. “His wish is to start a confrontation, a civil war, if possible”.

The Bolsonaro government, however, does not represent an increase in the practice of racism. According to Yedo Ferreira, racism remains violent against black people, because regardless of the change of government, the Brazilian State has black people as its target.

“The Brazilian State, since the proclamation of the Republic, was structured with black people as its enemy. So it is no coincidence that he sees the favelas, where our people live, as enemy territories”. The interview with Yedo Ferreira took place in the same week as the police operation in Vila Cruzeiro, in Rio de Janeiro, which ended with 26 people dead.

History and the black struggle

Yedo Ferreira was born on August 27, 1933, in Rio de Janeiro. Since the age of 18, he has been a political activist. During that period, he joined the Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Brasileiro, PCB), the main leftist party during a significant part of the 20th century.

When he joined the Partidão, as the PCB is known, in 1952, Brazil was under the Getúlio Vargas government, who ended up committing suicide two years later, in 1954. Yedo Ferreira went through different moments of Brazilian politics, such as the arrival of the military regime, in 1964, and the consequent clandestinity of the PCB.

Due to a party policy, he was removed from the PCB cadres in 1965. The cadres, as the activists were called, were disconnected to allow the continuity of the secrecy of the figures of the party's central committee. Yedo Ferreira then left Rio de Janeiro and went to Santa Catarina, where he stayed for three years.

Distant from political life, Yedo decided to return to Rio de Janeiro and prepare for the entrance exam at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), to study Mathematics, at the Fundão campus, in the North Zone of the city; it paid off and Yedo Ferreira was admitted into the university.

It was there, in 1968, while in contact with other black students, where he heard the following question: "what do you think about the black struggle taking place in the United States?” The answer with few details inspired him to research more on the subject. “In 1968 I was 35 years old, that's when I first started paying attention to the struggle of the black movement. Until then, in the party, we didn't know anything about Africa”.

A few years later, Yedo Ferreira was also provoked by the professor at the Cândido Mendes University, José Maria, who approached him about the struggles for independence in Africa. For José Maria, it was necessary to refer to African liberation movements more than to the black American civil rights movement. “ʽYour struggle must be for national liberationʼ, he told me, and I said I would keep thinking about it”.

The conversations with his friend José Maria had an effect and Yedo Ferreira began to organize himself based on the principle of the need for the national liberation of black people. “In the United States, black people are a minority, but in Brazil they are the majority. If we are the majority, and we are counted out by the Brazilian nation, which is a white people nation, then our struggle is for national liberation”. In 1973, the two founded the Center for Afro-Asian Studies to better understand racial dynamics in the country.

The most important in the fight against racism took place in 1978, when he followed the founding process of the Unified Black Movement (MNU) during the military dictatorship. On July 7 of that year he accompained the organization's foundation in São Paulo and, on September 9 of the same year, he articulated, together with other colleagues, the assembly to approve the charter of principles and the entity's statute, in Rio de Janeiro.

During the meeting, however, a disagreement between two colleagues pushed him away from the MNU, right at the beginning of the entity's history. He stayed away for 15 years and returned in 1993. That year, an internal orientation was taken from the organization to reconnect with former militants and put on the agenda a discussion Yedo was very much interested in — black people's political national project. “I committed to contributing to this project and I committed to returning to the MNU. I came back and I always defended this cause”.

Throughout the country's recent history, Yedo Ferreira believes that the movement adopted attitudes different from those expected from revolutionary organizations, facts that generated a disconnect between the real demands of the people and the organized struggle.

“Black people's cause is revolutionary, but the militancy is integrationist. This militancy is denunciatory and vindicatory. It does not think about the consequent political struggle. It always follows behind the left, the while elite and the left-wing parties”.

The position of subalternity adopted before the Brazilian left, mostly white, makes the black movement occupy a secondary place in the struggle. In Brazil's 2022 electoral process, he believes that the black movement will play a supporting role.

“We are just an audience, who are going to see things happen, without being able to define how things are going to happen. In this electoral process, there is no way out”.

One of the reasons for this is the existence of a gap between the black movement and the community. For him, even without a black economic elite, access to middle-class spaces generates this distance.

“We, the black movement, and I have always said this to the militancy, we have not been able to get close to our people. We mention our people in the speeches, ‘because we live in the favelas’, only in the speech, because we are always distant. I always say that militancy is an elite movement. We are the elite in relation to the mass of the black population due to education. Not the economic elite, because we are not the bourgeoisie, but due to education”.

“We are under a white supremacist government”, says MNU's Yedo Ferreira
 

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Afro Memória: 40 years of Milton Barbosa's and the MNU's first candidacy

Friday, September 30, 2022 | 12:42
By: Mariana Marques
Editing: Elias Santana Malê


A founding member of the Unified Black Movement and the Workers' Party, Milton Barbosa ran for federal deputy for the first time in 1982

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Milton Barbosa ran for federal deputy for the state of São Paulo for the first time in 1982. That was the first election after years of Military Dictatorship and marked the beginning of the period of redemocratization in Brazil. Milton ran for office for the then newly created Workers' Party (PT), of which he is one of the founders.

Milton's life was notoriously marked by political activity. He was a militant during the period in which he attended college, he was part of the Subway Workers' Union and was a militant with the black movement. In 1978, he presided over the public founding act of the Unified Movement Against Racial Discrimination (Movimento Unificado Contra a Discriminação Racial, MUCDR), currently the Unified Black Movement (Movimento Negro Unificado, MNU), where he held the positions of State Coordinator in São Paulo, member of the National Coordination, Coordinator of International Relations and national coordinator for Political Training and Organization.

At that time, the main objective of the candidacy was to make a statement. Despite having a singular political trajectory with the union and black movements, Milton Barbosa never managed to be elected. During an interview for the São Paulo Resistance Memorial, he stated that “we have always demanded that one of the priorities should be the marginalized, the black population, which is a victim of racism and overwhelmingly poor. And there was no investment in that. This was the major failure of the left”.

At the time, as today, electing black representatives was fundamental for advocating for rights and public policies for the black population. However, it was already known that occupying the newly created political institutions would not be enough to achieve equality.

“The fact that we elect governors, senators, deputies, mayors and councilors by direct vote is important. But we must be clear that these elections will not change and resolve the situation of the Brazilian people and, in particular, the black community. These elections must be seen as an instrument and an important moment in the organization and politicization of all of us who today fight for the end of this dictatorial regime that has oppressed us so much”, says a note from the Support Group for the Election of Milton Barbosa to Federal Deputy for the Workers' Party (Milton Barbosa Collection).

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A poster of Milton Barbosa's campaign to the Chamber of Deputies for the Workers' Party in São Paulo. Photo: Publicising/Soweto Organização Negra Collection/Edgar Leunenroth Collection/State University of Campinas

Milton's involvement in politics and the struggle for rights began when he studied economics at the University of São Paulo. At that time, he was part of the Academic Center of the Faculty of Economics, Administration and Accounting Sciences and became a militant of the Workers' League in opposition to the dictatorial regime. Milton left the university in 1976 to dedicate himself to the Black Movement.

Within the Workers' Party, Milton was part of the Regional Directorate and created the First Black Committee of the Workers' Party in São Paulo along with other activists such as Clovis de Castro and Fátima Ferreira. Two years after his candidacy for federal deputy, he was honorary president at the National Black Convention where the main proposals for criminalizing racism were drawn up. Today, Milton holds the position of National Honorary Coordinator for the MNU.

In July 2019, Milton Barbosa donated the records he kept his whole life to Projeto Afro Memória, a project to preserve the history of anti-racist movements. Now, the documents (which include minutes of meetings, posters, institutional documents of the MNU, among others) make up the Milton Barbosa Collection, which will be made available for public consultation soon.

Afro Memória: 40 years of Milton Barbosa's and the MNU's first candidacy
 

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"My voice was not silenced, it was amplified", says Renato Freitas (Workers' Party)

In an interview with Brasil de Fato Paraná, Freitas talks about the annulment of his term being suspended, his meeting with the Pope and campaign for the Legislative Assembly of Paraná

Redação Paraná
Curitiba (PR) | 29 September, 2022 | 11:41


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Renato Freitas resumes his term as councilman and can also run in the 2022 elections for the position of state deputy. Photo: Giorgia Prates

After having the annulment of his term as councilman suspended by decision of Minister Luís Roberto Barroso, Renato Freitas says that "the truth has been re-established". From a trial marked by accusations of racism and political persecution, he says he came out stronger. "If the goal was to silence my voice, the result was exactly the opposite. Today my voice has not only not been silenced as it has been amplified. People hear what I have to say everywhere in Brazil", he points out.

On Tuesday (27), Freitas gave an interview to Brasil de Fato Paraná and talked about the annulment process, the decision that restored his mandate in the Chamber of Curitiba, his relationship with the Catholic Church and his meeting with Pope Francis, in Italy, in addition to proposals for his candidacy for state deputy of Paraná.

The full interview can be seen on Brasil de Fato Paraná's Youtube channel. Check out excerpts below:

Brasil de Fato Paraná — What does this decision by Barroso mean and what do you expect from now on in relation to the Chamber, which has already informed that it will contest the decision?

Renato Freitas: The minister's decision was a decision that re-established the truth. There were four charges against me. First two: that I broke into the church and interrupted the mass. The church's own internal circuit demonstrated that the mass had already ended. So, those fell to the ground. This was the construction of fake news. In addition to being empty, since there was no service, the church was open. And, therefore, we felt comfortable in entering, since it is a Church of our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People, built so that black people could profess their faith and clamor for freedom and life.

Third: it disrespected the church and the priest. The priest himself said that he was not disrespected. So, that also fell to the ground. And the rapporteur, Sidnei Toaldo, in his opinion, recognized this.

And last but not least, they said I had committed a political act within the church. Look, what a generic accusation. Is clamoring for life a political act? Yes. If it is a political act, the very founding of this church, built by black hands to clamor for life and freedom, was a political act itself. So nothing fairer than honoring the memory of our ancestors. There is no repentance on my behalf, because there was an execution of Christian principles there. We brought up a man crucified at a kiosk to commune with one man crucified on a cross.

BdF — I would like for you to talk about your relationship with the Catholic Church. You have been invited to meet with Pope Francis. How has this relationship been?

Father Luiz Hass, from the church on that fateful day, was at a demonstration holding a sign so that I would not be impeached. At the session that I was stripped of my term as councilman, the priest sat in the front row. He gave interviews saying it was unfair, that it was persecutory and based on racism.

Bishop Dom Peruzzo, of the Archdiocese of Curitiba, made a note saying that there was no reason to cancel my term. We believe that the church strengthened us in this process, because it was sensitive enough to understand the urgency of our demands and the respect we had for the Christian faith. Christian theology is the theology of the oppressed. The word has to speak, above all, based on the example. What is the role of religious institutions in a society with an ongoing genocide?

You spoke about my meeting with the Pope... we had the opportunity to speak with the Pope, especially with regard to the wave of growth of fascism all over the world, including Europe. The day after I left Italy, a far-right candidate was elected. Europe has always exported its catastrophes to the third world.

BdF — How do you come out of this trial? Do you feel that you have moved from the role of a local activist in Curitiba to being a national leader?

[The cassation process] was an orchestrated attack by the political power, the public security forces and the conservative sectors of civil society, which are many here in Curitiba. All of them, in an orchestrated way, attacked us and exposed us in a negative way. It left us vulnerable. At that moment, many people turned their backs.

Even — I cannot forget to say this — the Workers' Party itself, in the figure of the state president, who made an absurd note saying that I had to apologize to the society of Paraná, to the church, to the party and even had the courage — or the cowardice — to say that the Workers' Party had no involvement with the demonstration. Even though the party had published a call for the demonstration, it was on the side of the organization, the last candidate for mayor of Curitiba [for the party] was in the church, the black sector of the party was inside the church. This attempt to withdraw from the trial and leave me alone, I felt it a lot.

What saved me was the base of the party, of which I am very proud, which did not let them sacrifice me in the name of a low electoral politics, which puts everything on the calculator while sacrificing the truth in the process. I came out strengthened because the base judged the top of the pyramid and said "we do not accept that" and made the board of directors review its position.

And after that the truth came out and a lot of people started supporting me in general. If the goal was to silence my voice, the result was just the opposite. Today my voice was not only not silenced, it was amplified. People listen to what I say everywhere in Brazil and I ended up becoming a reference in the fight for life, for dignity, for black lives. I came out much stronger. Everywhere I go I find people to welcome my ideas.

BdF — After this trial in the Chamber, you run for state deputy in Paraná. What causes do you want to take to the Legislative Assembly?

The first one is in relation to agrarian reform. I think that one of the great problems of Paraná's politics is the concentration of power in the hands of a centuries-old aristocracy. This aristocracy is largely constituted by land concentration. They are the colonels, the heirs of the Brazilian slavery process that are still there, such as the Lupion family, the Malucelli family, the Macedo family — of the current mayor of Curitiba, Rafael Greca de Macedo. And all these families that have large farms concentrate their income. Land reform is becoming increasingly urgent, first as part of the political reform process.

Second, urban reform. The city of Curitiba itself is an example of this: it is hygienist and unequal. You leave downtown Curitiba, the rich neighborhoods, and go to Caximba. You will go from the HDI [Human Development Index] of Nordic countries and go directly to the HDI of Sierra Leone and Cambodia. Is this tolerable? Under no circumstances. This is an invisible war, an undeclared war, but a war nonetheless.

Then, militarization. The Military Police of Paraná is the fifth deadliest, most violent in Brazil. This is unacceptable in any democracy, in any country that values human life. We will fight this kind of policy that is part of a genocidal project.

And we will also denounce what was done in the dismantling of education. The Cesumar University and mafia-like schemes to make money on top of a poor, unstructured and incompetent education. It's a consensus between students and teachers, everyone says it's a failed project, which is only maintained by spurious alliances with power, with Ratinho Junior [current governor of the state]. The [further] militarization of schools: young people, children need creativity. Militarization kills creativity, it diminishes the capacity of human beings. And homeschooling, which is giving the rich the opportunity to pay private tutors, as was the case in the Middle Ages.

These are some of the struggles that I consider structural to combat this centuries-old elite.

"My voice was not silenced, it was amplified", says Renato Freitas (Workers' Party)
 

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NAARC administrator delivers keynote at global reparations conference in Colombia


August 16, 2022

The conference was a first for Latin America

Bogota, Colombia –
National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) Administrator Don Rojas delivered the keynote address last week at a Global Reparations session that was part of the Inaugural activities celebrating newly elected President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Márquez Mina.

Marquez Mina is Colombia’s first Afro-Columbian Vice President.

Delegates from several countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, Senegal, Nigeria, France and Ghana were also in attendance. The US delegation included Rojas and NAARC Commissioner and Howard University Law Professor Justin Hansford. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Jesse Jackson, Jr. were among the invited guests attending the conference.

Present at the inaugural ceremonies were several Latin American presidents and vice presidents, as well as the Prime Minister of Guyana.

“The inauguration ceremony was very impressive, with lots of pomp and circumstance,” said Rojas, who also represented the New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW). “But, most significantly, it was the first such ceremony in the history of the country that was conducted in the open, in Bogota’s central plaza, where hundreds of thousands of ordinary Colombian citizens were able to witness the swearing in of President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Marquez Mina.”

Coming just days after the historic reparations summit in Accra, Ghana, the Bogota meeting added further momentum to the growing global reparations movement.

During his presentation, Rojas spoke about the evolution of the global movement within the past 10 years and he referenced the speech by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo at the historic reparations summit in Accra a few days before the Bogota conference, in which he called for reparations for the entire continent of Africa for the harms caused by European colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Rojas also referenced a recent meeting of global reparations leaders with Vatican officials to address the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the transatlantic slave trade. At that meeting, the reparations leaders recommended steps the Vatican can take to help the descendants of enslaved Africans achieve justice and repair.

Representatives of the other delegations in Bogota also reported from their respective national perspectives on the local work being done toward reparative justice.

Vice President Marquez Mina made a brief presentation at the end of the conference in which she noted the historic significance of the gathering and announced that she will be leading a new Ministry of Equality, which will include a reparations portfolio. She also stated that the new government will soon be establishing a national reparations commission within her ministry.

Images from the conference

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August 2022, Bogota, Colombia

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August 2022, Bogota, Colombia

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August 2022, Bogota, Colombia

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(L to R)—Don Rojas, Prof. Justin Hansford (Howard University School of Law) and Keith Ellison, attorney general for the State of Minnesotta, at the Colombia Reparations Conference

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August 2022, Bogota, Colombia

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August 2022, Bogota, Colombia


Presentation by Don Rojas: An Overview of the Global Reparations Movement

Leaders of the Colombia Government-Elect,
Distinguished Guests,
Sisters and Brothers,
Friends and Comrades.


Good afternoon to all. It is my singular honor to speak to you today in my capacity as the Director of Communications and International Relations for the Institute of the Black World 21st century (IBW) and for the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), as well as a consultant to the Caribbean Reparations Commission (CRC).

And, I have been asked by the organizers of this gathering to provide a brief overview of the global reparations movement today.

We meet here in Bogota at a propitious moment in the history of our world. Today, we are witnessing the evolution of a global movement for justice and equality, a movement to repair and heal the harms and the wounds of one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity—the transatlantic slave trade and the chattel slavery system which created a Holocaust in which over 15 million innocent Africans perished.

I wish to salute Sis. Esther and Bro. Helmer and their colleagues for organizing this historic gathering here in Bogota. We look forward to the establishment of Colombia’s National Reparations Commission in the not-too-distant future.

We, from the nations of the Caribbean and Latin America share a common history of slavery, colonialism, imperialism and neoliberalism, a history filled with misery and adversity. But we also share a common bond of struggle and resistance to exploitation and oppression, and, to be sure we will share a common destiny as we journey together into the 21st century.

Today, we are witnessing a surge of activity across the world in support of slavery reparations. Reparations is a movement whose time has come. Reparations is not just about our common history. It’s also about our present and our future.

The global reparations movement today is multifaceted. It is expressed in political, social, cultural, economic, educational, and religious manifestations.

In recent weeks reparations has dominated the global headlines from Africa to the Caribbean to Canada even to Australia and New Zealand. We’ve read about Pope Francis’ recent visit to Canada to apologize for crimes committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples in Canada and indigenous leaders have used the Pope’s visit to renew their call for reparations.

We’ve read also about recent statements by members of the British royal family apologizing for Britain’s role in practicing chattel slavery in the Caribbean while opening the door to potential negotiations around reparations for the harms of slavery.

In the United States over 350 civil society organizations, along with 217 members of Congress under the leadership of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston TX have advanced legislation known as HR40 in the House of Representatives and are calling on the Biden Administration to set-up by executive order a presidential reparations Commission to examine and analyze various reparations proposals.

Recently, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) led a group of Senators urging President Biden to establish a Presidential Commission to study and issue proposals on a national apology and reparations for African Americans.

In a letter to the President, the Senators write that “The legacy of slavery remains with us today and is compounded by ongoing racism and discrimination. The consequences for Black people in this country have been severe, continuous, and measurable.”

In the most populous state in the US, California’s Reparations Task Force report released a few weeks ago found that practices and policies in the state “have inflicted harms, which cascade over a lifetime and compound over generations, resulting in the current wealth gap between Black and white Americans.”

That finding will help to form the basis of a second report expected next year, which will focus on present-day remedies. The report captures some of the truth at a moment when more people are willing and able to hear it.

In the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Ill., city officials have already launched a reparations initiative, often described as the first of others to come. They will fund the program with what city officials have described as the first $10 million in the city’s share of revenue from legal cannabis sales.

Across the United States today there are literally scores of State and City-level reparations programs and projects taking shape, from San Francisco and Seattle on the West Coast to Chicago and St. Louis in the mid-West, to Boston, New York, Providence, RI, Amherst, Mass. and Asheville, North Carolina on the East Coast.

Today, the modern reparations movements in the Caribbean and the USA have evolved along a global, Pan-Africanist trajectory and have engaged the large African-descended diaspora communities in Britain, Canada and Europe. Groups of reparations activists and advocates in these communities grew larger in the wake of the 2020 mass demonstrations across the globe following the brutal police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In Switzerland, there is an active reparations support group carrying out public education campaigns while lobbying the Swiss government to apologize and make recompense for its role in financing aspects of the Transatlantic slave trade. Also, American citizens living in Europe who identify as members of the Democratic Party in the US are enthusiastically supporting the reparations movement back home.

Fellow reparations advocates in the Caribbean, the USA and Europe with professional experience working on Wall Street and other global capital markets are mounting a campaign to finance a trillion dollar reparations fund for the Caribbean region financed by private corporations and banks that were involved in the lucrative Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

A few weeks ago on July 18, under the umbrella of the Global Circle for Reparations and Healing, a delegation of global reparations leaders was received in a formal meeting at the Vatican, by Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Culture, along with his assistant.

The purpose of the meeting was to begin a dialog with the Catholic Church on its role in sanctioning and benefiting from the Transatlantic slave trade and its legacy that inflicted immeasurable harm on Africa and its Global Diaspora.

The delegation delivered a document outlining the harms and offenses of the Church, the legacy resulting from those harms and offenses and reparations measures that are needed for full repair and healing.

In his response, Bishop Tighe suggested that the moment is “ripe” for the document to be seriously considered by the Church under the guidance of Pope Francis. He cited Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti as evidence of the Pontiffs commitment to explore issues of justice, equality, and reconciliation.

In the realm of higher education, ninety-five elite universities across the United States are now critically examining their role in slavery in the United States. Harvard University has created a $100 million reparations fund and some of these institutions are working together to map the various reparations and racial healing projects. One such collaboration that has yielded outstanding work in creating searchable databases is the African American Redress Network, a joint venture between Howard and Columbia Universities.

Professor Justin Hansford, Director of this Network and a commissioner in the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) is here with us today.

And across the country religious denominations from Christian to Jewish to Muslim are getting involved more and more in the reparations movement and they’re not waiting for the federal government to act but instead are taking their own actions to launch reparations projects and programs in their local parishes and faith communities.

Recent public opinion polls indicate a 75% support for reparations among African Americans and close to 60 percent among young white Americans. So, we can see clearly that the reparations movement is accelerating its momentum in all regions of the US.
 

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On the international front, very significantly, on Monday August the 1st in Accra, Ghana, President Akufo-Addo speaking before some 100 participants at an international reparations summit called for reparations to be paid to African nations, particularly to those who lost many of their people when they were kidnapped and forced against their will onto slave ships bound for the new world in what has been described as the history’s greatest crime of human trafficking.

President Akufo-Addo said the conversations on reparations were “long overdue” and needed to be intensified. He questioned the double standards in the debate when it came to other races and ethnic groups that were wronged historically.

“Native Americans have received and continue to receive reparations; Japanese-American families, who were incarcerated in internment camps in America during World War II, received reparations. Jewish people, six million of whom perished in the concentration camps of Hitlerite Germany, received reparations, including homeland grants and support”.

He noted that all the owners of enslaved Africans received reparations to the tune of 20 million pounds sterling, “but enslaved Africans themselves did not receive a penny.”

Haiti also had to pay reparations amounting to $21 billion to French slaveholders in 1825 following the Haitian Revolution of 1804, the only successful slave revolt in history that went on to establish a Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere based on the universal principles of freedom, equality, and fraternity.

Sisters and Brothers, let me add, parenthetically, that the founder of Colombia, the great liberator Simon Bolivar, had visited Haiti after the triumph of their Revolution and had developed strong bonds of solidarity with the leaders of a free Haiti.

While reiterating that no amount of money can restore the damage caused by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and its consequences, which have spanned many centuries, Ghana’s President stated that “nevertheless, it is now time to revive and intensify the discussions about reparations for Africa. Indeed, the time is long overdue.”

He asked participants at the summit not to overly concern themselves with modalities for the payment of reparations, but, rather, work to establish, unequivocally, first the principle of justice in the call for reparations.

Also on August 1st, countries across the Caribbean region celebrated Emancipation Day when the British government declared on Aug. 1, 1834 emancipation for enslaved Africans in its Caribbean territories. Several significant leaders in the Caribbean region issued powerful statements on Emancipation Day this year.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago reminded his people that our ancestors have been legally defined as three-fifths of a person, supported by laws that stated that it was legal to kill a slave “who raised a hand against a Christian”.

“Then there were the psycho-social efforts on their minds to destroy their culture, their bonds, and their religion, which sought to strip away every aspect of their African spirit.

“Today as we remember one of the darkest events in human history, we acknowledge the strength of a people to defeat what can only be described as a grave evil to become an invaluable pillar of courage as well as enrichment to our global community.

In his Emancipation Day statement, Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson of Jamaica said that reparative justice for these crimes against humanity remain a remedy to which we, the descendants of the enslaved, are entitled, even as we explore new dimensions of our Emancipation and continue to push the boundaries of excellence and achievement within the realms of our sovereignty.

Patterson appealed for urgent attention “to remain steadfastly focused on the unfulfilled mission of dismantling the remaining vestiges of systemic discrimination that have persisted in the post-Emancipation era through various entrenched forms of political, social, and economic exclusion.”

“From inequitable access to land, shelter, health, and education to unfair wages for labour, restrictive practices have been systemically embedded in national and international arrangements since Emancipation nearly two centuries ago.

Today, they continue to be reflected in global power configurations that serve to constrain the ability of our people to achieve their legitimate right to global decision-making and economic development.”

According to Patterson, nations and disadvantaged groups of people in Africa, the Caribbean, and their diaspora remain trapped in universal structural inequalities that have persisted for far too long.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados in her Emancipation Day statement said:

“Today we commemorate not just their emancipation, but we celebrate the lives and efforts of our African forefathers to end slavery. In remembering these things, let us understand that while the seas may get rough and while the struggle may be long, together we can and will see these challenges through.

“At the same time, this era of global socio-economic malfeasance, that only favours the largest and most powerful of nations, must come to an end.

The time for discussions and actioning of reparations is nigh; for while we as a people and a nation understand the need to face these challenges head on together, the global framework must be one that is fair and based on equality.
 

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In the Preamble to its 10-Point plan of action, the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) asserts a number of key historical truths—that European Governments:

–Were owners and traders of enslaved Africans.

–Instructed genocidal actions upon indigenous communities.

–Created the legal, financial and fiscal policies necessary for the enslavement of Africans.

–Defined and enforced African enslavement and native genocide as in their ‘national interests’.

–Refused compensation to the enslaved with the ending of their enslavement.

–Compensated slave owners at emancipation for the loss of legal property rights in enslaved Africans.

–Imposed a further one hundred years of racial apartheid upon the emancipated.

–Imposed for another one hundred years policies designed to perpetuate suffering upon the emancipated and survivors of genocide.

–And have refused to acknowledge such crimes or to compensate victims and their descendants.

The CRC came into being some two generations after the national independence process and finds European colonial rule as a persistent part of Caribbean life. It operates within the context of persistent objection from European governments to its mandate. The CRC, nonetheless, is optimistic that the CARICOM Reparatory Justice Programme (CRJP) will gain acceptance as a necessary path to progress.

It calls upon European governments to participate in the CRJP with a view to prepare these victims and sufferers for full admission with dignity into the citizenry of the global community.

Of the 10 points in the CRC’s Reparatory Justice Program, allow me to highlight three for purposes of this gathering here today—

Indigenous Peoples Development Program

The governments of Europe committed genocide upon the native Caribbean population. Military commanders were given official instructions by their governments to eliminate these communities and to remove those who survive pogroms from the region.

Genocide and land appropriation went hand in hand. A community of over 3,000,000 in 1700 has been reduced to less than 30,000 in 2000. Survivors remain traumatized, landless, and are the most marginalized social group within the region.

A Development Plan is required to rehabilitate this community.

Technology Transfer

For 400 years the trade and production policies of Europe could be summed up in the British slogan: “not a nail is to be made in the colonies”.

The Caribbean was denied participation in Europe’s industrialization process and was confined to the role of producer and exporter of raw materials. This system was designed to extract maximum value from the region and to enable maximum wealth accumulation in Europe.

The effectiveness of this policy meant that the Caribbean entered its nation building phase as a technologically and scientifically ill-equipped- backward space within the postmodern world economy.

Debt Cancellation

Caribbean governments that emerged from slavery and colonialism have inherited the massive crisis of community poverty and institutional unpreparedness for development. These governments still daily engage in the business of cleaning up the colonial mess to prepare for development.

The pressure of development has driven governments to carry the burden of public employment and social policies designed to confront colonial legacies. This process has resulted in states accumulating unsustainable levels of public debt that now constitute their fiscal entrapment.

This debt cycle properly belongs to the imperial governments who have made no sustained attempt to deal with debilitating colonial legacies. Support for the payment of domestic debt and cancellation of international debt are necessary reparatory actions.

Joining us here today is my friend and colleague Bro. Eric Phillip, a vice chair of the CRC and leader of the Guyana Reparations Committee.

Inspired by CARICOM’s 10-point plan, the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) has also produced a preliminary 10-point plan or blueprint of its own.

It highlights the Right to Land for Social and Economic Development, calls for funds for co-operative enterprises and socially responsible entrepreneurial development, stresses education for community development and empowerment and cites the need for affordable housing for healthy African-American Communities.

Established in April, 2015, (NAARC) comprises a group of distinguished professionals and leaders from across the USA with outstanding accomplishments in the fields of law, medicine, journalism, academia, history, civil rights and social justice advocacy.

They are united in a common commitment to fight for reparatory justice, compensation and restoration of African American communities that were plundered by the historical crimes of slavery, segregation and colonialism and that continue to be victimized by the legacies of slavery and American apartheid.

Convenor of the NAARC is Dr. Ron Daniels, veteran civil and human rights activist and Distinguished Lecturer Emeritus, York College, City University of New York. Dr. Daniels is attending the Accra Summit and he has asked me to convey his solidarity greetings to this conference.

One of NAARC’s allied organizations is an entity known as the Fund for Reparations Now (FFRN) which is a group of white anti-racism activists who raise money online from the white community to fund reparations projects in Black communities that historically have been the victims of horrific racist violence. To date, FFRN has raised close to $300.000 and their list of donors keeps growing by the day.

In recent years, we have built NAARC’s multimedia website into the largest online destination for news articles, essays, lectures, speeches, and audio-visual materials on the subject of slavery reparations. I invite you all to visit this site at www.reparationscomm.org. Feel free to send us your feedback.

Sisters and Brothers, Neoliberalism in Latin America and the Caribbean has done nothing to improve the material conditions of the masses of our people. In fact neoliberalism has led to the rise of poverty and misery across our region. So, we must find ways to marry the social movements against neoliberalism with the social movements for reparations. They should go hand in glove.

We should exercise our responsibility to mobilize and organize the creative energy and genius of our people so that they become actors in shaping their own destiny and not just passive recipients of their fate as determined by their oppressors. Both leaders and those being led must move in the same direction towards the same goals and objectives.

In this regard, we are duly impressed by President-elect Petro’s recent announcement of a 4-year development plan for Colombia which will involve and engage the masses of this country in a process of participatory democracy in the construction and implementation of the development plan.

As we convene today in this beautiful museum. we should ask ourselves how do we collaborate and coordinate our various reparations initiatives across geographical and linguistic boundaries? How do we effectively combine our resources and our will to forge a mighty global army for reparatory justice?

When we speak today about reparations being an issue for the now, the present, we are talking about intentionally identifying and then repairing the vestiges and the negative living legacies of slavery in our societies, we are talking about the need to repair the harms of the past while holding the perpetrators of these historical crimes accountable. The enormous debt of slavery has yet to be paid, and the criminals responsible for this holocaust have yet to be prosecuted.

So what is Our Call to Action—What is to be done—

First and foremost, we should create a compelling narrative on the commonality of the survival, resistance, resilience and the development by people of African descent in the face of enslavement and its legacies. This commonality of narrative connects all people of African descent engaged in the multigenerational struggle for reparations and healing based on exposing the “big lie” of white superiority and Black inferiority, which undergirds the global systems of racial Capitalism and neo-liberalism.

This narrative must be translated into basic/common language, themes and mantras which can be readily communicated via various forms of media and understood by ordinary Black people seeking to comprehend and support the struggle for reparations and healing.

Many creative, young scholars in the US and Africa are today taking a refreshing look at including climate change as an essential part of the reparations equation.

They point out that scores of studies of existing social systems have shown that those who are marginalized by race and class are disproportionately vulnerable to almost every kind of vulnerability: environmental vulnerability, public health vulnerability and others.

These scholars and academics are advancing an interesting case for reparations–one rooted in a hopeful future that tackles the issue of climate change head on, with distributive justice at its core. This view, which they call the “constructive” view of reparations, argues that reparations should be seen as a future-oriented project engaged in building a better social order; and that the costs of building a more equitable world should be distributed more to those who have inherited the moral liabilities of past injustices.

Friends and comrades, finally, I will argue that all people of goodwill across the world should have a stake in the global reparations movement. The economic logic of reparative justice will drive this movement. There will be limitless economic opportunities in repairing the living legacies of human enslavement— opportunities in jobs, education, housing, sustainable green energy, etc.

I believe that Colombia, under the new Petro/Marquez Administration can lead the green revolution across Latin America and the Caribbean, and that Colombia can also play a vanguard role in spreading the reparations movement across this continent.

Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, and the Caribbean’s pre-eminent public intellectual, has predicted that the 21st century will witness the greatest political and human rights movement in history and it will be fueled by the awesome moral and spiritual power of slavery reparations.

In conclusion, allow me to quote these stirring words from Bro. Arley Gill, Chair of the Grenada Reparations Commission this past Emancipation Day on August 1. He said:

Our ancestors demand that we fight to ensure that they are finally seen as human beings. They demand that we fight for their dignity! They demand that we do the work that must be done in our lifetime to see them in the fullness of their humanity-as men, women, children, with names, with stories, and people with great traditions and vibrant cultures, human beings worthy of respect.

“So, on this Emancipation Day – let us come together as descendants of a strong and resilient people and remind one another that being here today is a testament to our enslaved ancestors’ indomitable spirit, undaunted strength, and unwavering determination to survive.”


Thank you very much for listening to me and for the privilege of your time.

Viva Caribbean and Latin American Solidarity,

Forward Ever, Backward Never.

NAARC administrator delivers keynote at global reparations conference in Colombia
 

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The “Afro-descendant Internationalism” training workshop has begun

Posted on September 08, 2022 by Vanessa Gutiérrez

This training process will offer insight into Venezuelan international politics; at the same time, it will provide discursive and ideological tools in terms of integration and affirmative action policies related to the Historical Objectives of the Homeland.

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This Thursday, the inaugural session of the “Afro-descendant Internationalism” Training Workshop was held, organized by the Simón Bolívar Institute for Peace and Solidarity among Peoples (ISB), the Ministry of People's Power for Communes and Social Movements; and with the accompaniment of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People's Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP).

The goal of this workshop is to deepen the brotherhood and solidarity between the peoples, constituting itself as a space for identification/recognition of historical subjects in Venezuela, as is the case of the Afro-Venezuelan community.

The event was attended by the excellent presence of the Executive Secretary of ALBA-TCP, Sacha Llorenti, who explained the importance of the regional integration organization to support the process of justice, reparations and truth for Afro-descendants, both in the Patria Grande and the world.

Llorenti celebrated the start-up of this training process with a presentation entitled: “A View from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP)”.

ALBA-TCP and Afro-descendants

According to the Executive Secretary of ALBA-TCP, there is an important way to go in terms of justice for Afro-descendants. For this reason, he considered it essential to resort to the various agreements and debates elaborated by this organization in which the struggle of these communities is recognized.

He recalled that, on December 14, 2021 at the Summit in Havana, ALBA reaffirmed its support for the Caribbean countries in their just claim for reparations for slavery and genocide.

“Fidel and Chávez decided to found ALBA; which became one of the first counter-hegemonic scenarios in the region. Eighteen years later, ten countries are part of ALBA. The only instance against hegemony that has survived a reactionary wave in the region is the ALBA-TCP”, said Llorenti.

The Executive Secretary of ALBA-TCP mentioned that these justice processes for Afro-descendants, or any other sector affected by neoliberal policies, must be accompanied by an in-depth study of history.

“You cannot combat the injustices of the present without studying the injustices and horrors of slavery in the past”, he said.

On the workshop's methodology

The training activity will take place on September 8 and 9, for 24 academic hours, divided into 12 hours per day. It will also have four modules namely:

  • I Module: Foreign policy.
  • II Module: Venezuela's international policy.
  • III Module: Multilateral and regional organizations.
  • IV Module: International solidarity.

This training process will offer insight into Venezuelan international politics; at the same time, it will provide discursive and ideological tools in terms of integration and affirmative action policies related to the Historical Objectives of the Homeland.

Likewise, it will project the plans, programs and popular linkage at the regional and international level and will lay the foundations for a plan for the Afro-Venezuelan movements in terms of foreign and international policy.

The participants will receive important international language tools for the Venezuelan Afro-descendant movement.

At the end, a participation certificate will be issued.

The “Afro-descendant Internationalism” training workshop has begun
 

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Election is the result of “historical struggle” and “ancestral resistance”, says Carol Dartora

The Workers' Party candidate is the first black woman elected federal deputy by Paraná, with more than 130 thousand votes

Brasil de Fato Paraná
Curitiba | October 6, 2022 | 08:27


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Carol Dartora: first black councilwoman elected in Curitiba, in 2020, and now the first black congresswoman elected by Paraná, in 2022. Photo: Joka Madruga

Voters in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná broke from a tradition of voting for white, conservative congressmen last Sunday and elected a new face to the National Congress: Carol Dartora (Workers' Party/PT), the first black woman elected federal deputy in the history of the state. This victory comes on the tail of the 2020 municipal elections, where Dartora became the first black woman elected to Curitiba’s city council.

The second progressive candidate with the most votes, Dartora was elected by 130,654 people. According to her, voters answered a call: “we proposed a new political culture, which is representation, and the people embraced our candidacy”.

Dartora also states that being elected is a result of the struggle and resistance of both the black and the women's movement. “Ever since the abolition of slavery we have been fighting for the inclusion of the black population in Brazilian society. And the state of Paraná, unfortunately, has lagged behind due to large-scale institutional racism which has rendeered the black population invisible for a long time. I believe that this result is due to this historical struggle, this path that has been laid down, this ancestral resistance”, she says.

The need for progress

The elected candidate, who will represent the electorate of Paraná in Brasília, starting in 2023, points out that it is time to take progressive agendas to the center of power in the country.

“This is the moment when the working class (as diverse as it is, whether male or female, black and poor) felt the need for progress; we must move forward in terms of living conditions, basic rights. The population of Paraná understood this need and how our plan for office will work towards achieving it, and this is why I was elected”, she says.

Now that her campaign is over, Dartora says she will keep working to elect Lula president in the second round (October 30). According to the elected candidate, the Workers' Party leader represents the needs of the working class. “People don’t want to go hungry anymore, people can’t stand being unemployed anymore. The Workers’ Party project represents the overcoming of these problems”, says Dartora.

Editing: Frédi Vasconcelos and Lia Bianchini


Election is the result of “historical struggle” and “ancestral resistance”, says Carol Dartora
 
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