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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Quito Process, as a regional coordination joint response to the Venezuelan migration crisis, celebrates solidarity and diversity, and condemns acts of discrimination and prejudice. Study on African descendants in Venezuelan migration flows provides crucial information on the issue. 

By Isadora Zoni

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21. On this date in 1960, police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against apartheid laws; 69 people were killed and 180 were injured.

Since then, we have come a long way. However, there is still much to be done. 

The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in South Africa (2001), was considered one of the most important steps forward for the theme at the global level. It marked an important advance in human rights, highlighting vulnerability due to race and ethnicity issues. 

The term "xenophobia" appears frequently in newspapers and news dealing with migration flows, especially in recent years, considering that more than 6 million Venezuelans have left the country in search of food, work, and a decent life since 2014.1

Exploratory Study on Afrodescendent Migrants and Refugees… 

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) recently released an "Exploratory Study on Afrodescendant Venezolan Migrants and Refugees in Latin America" (available here). The study was conducted in the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of Ecuador, the Republic of Panama, and the Republic of Peru.

It is one of the first studies on Venezuelan migration flows from an ethnic and racial perspective, and seeks to contribute knowledge and make visible the perception of Venezuelan migrants and refugees of African origin about their access to rights and the struggle against all types of discrimination.

What is Xenophobia and who affects?
Xenophobia basically derives from the idea that non-citizens present some threat to the identity or individual rights of the citizen who feels it, and connects with the concept of nationalism, reinforcing the idea that migrants and refugees would be corrupting the national identity and, by claiming for themselves individual rights, would be taking them away from the country's nationals.

It is important to recognize that, although xenophobia affects most migrant and refugee groups, there is an issue of intersectionality present: different factors must be taken into account when analyzing xenophobia against a given group, and one should not consider that all foreigners experience xenophobia in the same way in a region considered xenophobic. Each one suffers different experiences, depending on their geographic origin, culture, gender, color, ethnicity, social class, among other factors.

1R4V Platform: Figures of Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela. Available at: