Committee Calls for Affirmative Action in Colombia Higher Education

Slavery was abolished in the South American nation of Colombia in 1851. Today official figures show that Afro-Colombians make up 11 percent of the total population. But the actual percentage of the population that is black may be as high as 26 percent, according to some demographic experts. They note that many Colombians with mixed heritage do not choose to identify themselves as black because they fear they will be discriminated against.

An investigative committee set up by the Colombian government has found that black Colombians face significant “structural discrimination.” Life expectancy, education levels, and income are lower for Afro-Colombians than for those of other ethnic groups in the country.

The committee recommended that quotas be established so that blacks are guaranteed places at Colombia universities, in the armed forces, and in government jobs. The committee also urged that the government institute incentives for private firms to hire black managers and for political parties to field black candidates.