The first-ever gathering of churches and organizations of Afro-descendent minorities across Latin America will take place in this Nicaraguan capital June 22-24.
The conference is jointly sponsored by the recently launched pastoral department for Afro-descendant minorities of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Just and Inclusive Communities program.
Numerous communities of African descent, often small and scattered, exist without any visibility or political power in Latin America and the Caribbean. They are exposed to multiple forms of discrimination that often go unnoticed. More than other segments of society they are faced with problems such as extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of education, poor housing, ill health and malnutrition.
Institutionalized racism is expressed in government policies that deprive these minorities of their livelihoods and deny them equal opportunities: Territories and natural resources are snatched from them, forest concessions granted to transnational companies and the political and administrative systems of indigenous and afro-descendant people, their knowledge, beliefs, values and languages are disrespected.
The gathering in Managua will bring together people from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela with a view to facilitate sharing of experiences and to forge solidarity and plans for common action.
The conference follows up on the Conference on Racism Today and the Rationale for Continued Ecumenical Engagement held in Cleveland, Ohio last August.