Colombia VP asks UN for reparations for African descendants

Geneva, Dec 5 (EFE).- Member states of the United Nations and the international body itself have to take actions to make historical reparations to the world’s African and Afro-descendant population with the aim of ensuring that these people “recover the dignity that was expropriated from them,” Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez emphasized Monday at an international forum.

“For many years, this has been an issue eluded and avoided by the United Nations and its member countries,” said Marquez, who urged her audience “to take concrete actions for historical reparations that contribute to transforming the colonial systems.”

One of those actions, she said, could be to forgive the foreign debt of nations “that continue paying to colonizing countries and that have been compromised with slavery, which has not allowed us to live in dignity,” since it uses up many natural resources.

The historic reparations should contribute to providing access to justice, economic and social development for Afro-descendant populations and to guarantee real political participation, said Marquez, the second woman – and first African-Colombian – to serve as Colombia’s vice president.

Marquez participated at the inauguration of a week of meetings of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent at the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva, where some 500 delegates are discussing the struggle against systemic racism and for climate justice and equality, among other things.

The vice president, who was cheered on several occasions during her speech, pointed to respect for climate justice that “cannot be discussed without taking on racial and gender justice,” given that environmental deterioration “disproportionately affects African and Afro-descendant populations.”

“The current economic system began with colonization, with slavery, with the subjugation of men and women, and it’s the same system that today is causing life in the ‘big house,’ the ‘big uterus,’ Mother Earth, to collapse,” she said.

Marquez added that Colombia “is committed to moving forward on actions for racial justice, and we urge all UN members states to make the same commitment,” going on to emphasize that her nation “has made progress in collectively recognizing territory for the Afro-descendant population.”

The Colombian politician, who for years has stood out for her work as an environmental and social activist, noted that previously she had attended UN meetings in defense of human rights, saying to applause that “Today I’m here as president of the Republic of Colombia.”

The forum was launched in 2021 as part of the activities of the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), a 10-year period that – according to Marquez – is an initiative about which it must be recognized that “we’re not seeing positive changes that impact those populations.”

“We’re hoping that the forum will allow the establishment of agendas of structural transformation that lead to dignifying the lives of the peoples of African descent in the world, that lead to reconnecting Africa with its diaspora and lead us to reconciling ourselves with humanity,” she said.

Marquez noted that “people of African descent and Africans continue to experience situations of colonization – similar to slavery – and structural violence.”

EFE abc/bp

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