The Minister of Culture of Peru Patricia Balbuena; the Secretary of Access and Equity of the Organization of American States, Mauricio Rands; the Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Peru, Viviana Caro, and Alejandro de la Fuente, Director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute (ALARI) at Harvard University, inaugurated the First Inter-American Meeting of High-Level Authorities for the Afrodescendant Population (RIAFRO) on June 11, 2018 in Lima, Peru. "This event seeks to exchange experiences and to articulate actions to strengthen the dialogue and permanent collaboration [among government representatives] to allow a greater inclusion of the Afrodescendant population," Minister Balbuena said.
The meeting took place from June 11-13 at the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture of Peru and gathered government representatives of 12 states of the Americas, as well as leaders from international organizations, foundations, civil society organizations, and scholars. The countries represented included Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
"With this meeting, the first of its kind, the Afro-Latin American Research Institute has reached and connected with the various actors who contribute to the design and implementation of race-justice agendas in Latin America: scholars, activists, international organizations, and now government representatives. This meeting is the first concrete result of our collaborative agreement with the Organization of American States to implement the goals of the Decennial for People of African Descent in Latin America", ALARI Director de la Fuente explained.
Country representatives discussed different policy approaches concerning racial inclusion, the need to strengthen existing institutions, and how to design policies in dialogue with organizations from civil society. “This event is highly significant as it combines for the first time different sectors and countries of the region to invest in common actions during the International Decade for People of African Descent” said Yimene Calderón, Executive Director of the Organization for Ethnic Community Development (ODECO) in Honduras.
The gathering resulted in the creation of the Inter-American Network of High-Level Authorities for the Afrodescendant Population (RIAFRO). Housed as the Secretariat of Access and Equity of the OAS with the support of the ALARI and the IDB, RIAFRO will coordinate policy initiatives on Afrodescendants at the continental level. “Here in Lima, RIAFRO is connecting important actors of governments and civil society to advance the Afrodescendant agenda in our countries, a commitment of the OAS which our Secretariat of Access and Equity has fully embraced”, said Maurico Rands. Peru was elected as the first country to hold the presidency of RIAFRO, followed by Costa Rica and Brazil.