University Effort to Boost Civil Rights for African Descendants in Latin America

usfDuring the slave period, more Africans were brought to the shores of South America than to North America. It is estimated that 10 million slaves were brought to Latin American countries. Today, their descendants number about 150 million, a large percentage of whom are Brazilians. But there are African populations in all Latin American countries and in many nations they are concentrated in the lower socioeconomic groups.

Now the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean at the University of South Florida in Tampa, is undertaking an effort to obtain funding to hold a major training institute for African descendants in Latin America who are working for civil rights. The project will be called the Franz Fanon International Training Institute for Afro-Descendants in Latin America.

“African descendants are at the very bottom of social hierarchies almost everywhere in the Americas,” according to Bernd Reiter, an associate professor of comparative politics at the University of South Florida. “Only very recently did some governments, pressured by Black social movements and advocacy groups, start to enact programs targeting this population. Previously, not a single Latin American country ever made a serious attempt to undo the effects of slavery. There never was a time of reconstruction, no 40 acres and a mule, anywhere. The plight of African descendants south of the USA is slowly, but steadily, gaining more international attention due also to the forces of a globalized media, but the struggle for justice that these populations wage goes back to the 1500s.”

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