From Tuesday 15 to Friday, October 18, 2019, the Consultation Forum and the High Level Meeting is being held in Costa Rica. Its purpose is to raise awareness and to propose global actions that help in the fulfillment of the rights of Afro-descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event seeks to ensure that Afro-descendant peoples are part of the democratic construction of their countries and that they have equal access to education, justice, health services, employment and housing. It was organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and the Office of the First Vice Presidency of Costa Rica and is taking place in San José, the capital, at the Park Inn Hotel. More than 100 delegates from 26 countries and special guests from governments and civil society, among other international organizations are taking part.
Epsy Campbell stated that “Through this meeting Costa Rica reaffirms its political will and its commitment to take immediate measures that help eliminate any inequality. Our nation invites all the countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean to take decisive actions in the development of these peoples and communities.” Campbell is the first female vice president of African descent in continental Latin America. She added that the region will move forward more quickly “when we [Afro-descendants] add our voices and when we work together to transform this reality, in order we live in inclusive and fair societies”.
Afro-descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean
According to official data, in Latin America and the Caribbean there are approximately 200 million people of African descent, of which a large part are at a disadvantage. They do not have equal access to basics such as: education, health, employment and housing. “Afro-descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty and less likely to complete primary school.” World Bank, (2018).
This forum is of paramount importance so that governments can identify both the challenges and the advances that the region has in relation to this issue and subsequently fulfill the commitments of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), proclaimed through the resolution of the UN General Assembly.
In the words of Harold Robinson, Regional Director of United Nations Population Fund, “The commitments made in this event will be presented at the Nairobi Summit next November, where we will give renewed impetus to the agenda of the Cairo Population and Development Conference.”
Natalia Kanem, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Director of the United Nations Population Fund, is expected to attend this forum. This would be the first official visit made by a representative of this organization to Costa Rica.
The Tico Afro-descendant Community
~ The first Africans arrived in Costa Rica in 1560, with the first migratory movement. Records of baptisms of African children have been found and in 1585 the first name recorded is “Antono”.
~ In Costa Rica the first settlements occurred in the 17th century. The most important is located in Cartago, known as “La puebla de los pardos”. As Spanish colonization expanded to other areas, Guanacaste becomes another important point of settlement.
~ Data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) inficates that the Afro-Costa Rican population amounts to 7.8% of the national total and it is estimated that this figure will continue to increase.
Here’s The Forum’s Schedule
These are some of the activities and topics that will be addressed in the Forum
Six work sessions will be held. They will include topics related to the recognition, justice and development of this population. The challenges they are facing for the implementation of the 2030 Plan will be discussed.
Other issues are the access to land, as well as the sexual and reproductive rights of women of African descent.
Participants will discuss proposals for actions that allow the advancement of the human rights of people of African descent, especially women and youths.
Thursday 17 and Friday 18
Participants will propose global action for the fulfillment of the rights of people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean. The forum looks forward to developing a regional strategy with priority actions aimed at meeting the needs of the Afro-descendant ppopulation.
At the end of the forum, attendees will adopt a statement of the commitments to be fulfilled and put it into practice in each of their countries in order to advance the rights of women and young people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean.