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BLM Protests Resurrect Debates on Racism and Police Brutality in South America



BLM Protests

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of the police has stirred a wave of protests, not only in the United States but all across the world. Thousands of people are taking out anti-racism demonstrations in different parts of the world. However, these anti-racism protests are bringing racial inequality in South American countries, particularly Brazil, to light.

Notedly, the US and Brazil have a shared history of slavery and police brutality against the Black community. According to media reports, more than 75% of people killed by police officers in Brazil in recent years were Black. Furthermore, the death of 5-year-old Miguel da Silva in the first week of June rocked Brazil, sparking widespread protests against racism across the country.

Increasing incidents of police indiscriminately killing citizens, majoritarily against black and poor, have gained global attention in the past weeks. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro once described indigenous people and Afro-descendants as “under-educated” and “dirty people”. Such incidents have given birth to much-needed discussions over the deep-rooted legacies of racial discrimination and police brutality in South American countries as well.

According to a December 2017 report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, African descent represents almost 21% of the total population of the region, with Brazil serving home to the highest number Afro-descendants, followed by Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Despite such a large proportion of the population, Latin America’s indigenous and black community lacks basic access to political decision-making, elective position, and leadership.

Racism exists in nearly every section of Brazilian society, and it has regrettably intensified for the Black people, particularly for Afro-Brazilians, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and concerning health risks. 

On the other hand, in the South American country of Colombia, young Afro Colombians face police harassment every day. Furthermore, they live in impoverished conditions, lacking access to proper healthcare and education. For years now, Colombia’s Afro-Colombian communities in Colombia have been accusing the National government of racism and systemic neglect. 

Inspired by worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, several activists and Afro-Colombian advocacy groups recently took out demonstrations in the capital of Bogota against racism and police brutality. Similarly, big crowds are moving through the streets across Latin America in support of the BLM movement. Flocks of people are raising voices against racism in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires and the Dominican Republic, despite the risk of Coronavirus pandemic.


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