Afro-Descendent Month Kicks off in Venezuela
Chavez: Long live the Afro-descendent peoples! Long live Equality! Long live Liberty! Long live Mother Africa! Long live Mother Abya Yala! Long live our homeland!
Today Venezuela commemorates Afro-Venezuelan Day in honor of the heroic anti-slavery deeds of José Leandro Chirino in the northwestern mountains of Falcón state in 1795. In 2005, May 10 was designated Afro-Venezuelan Day by Nicolás Maduro, who was president of the National Assembly at the time.
2005 also marked the creation of the Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the Educational System as part of the Ministry of Education. This Commission guides education policy related to ethnic and racial topics.
Most of Venezuela’s Afro-descendent population is spread out among 14 states, including Vargas, Miranda, Aragua, Carabobo, Yaracuy, Sucre and Guárico, which are located either along the coast or in the center of the country.
Celebrations in the United States
The Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, along with BusBoys and Poets, will present a workshop on Afro-Venezuelan dance with dancer Mesi Walton on May 20th at 7 p.m. Ms. Walton will share what she learned during her field research into the history and traditions of Afro-Venezuelan communities.
Furthermore, Busboys and Poets will showcase an exhibit of documentary photographs titled “Malembe and Mondongo” by human rights lawyer Heather L. Hodges.
Other Activities in Venezuela
María León, a representative from Venezuela’s National Assembly, will give an introductory speech to begin the ceremony at Bolívar Plaza in Caracas. Following this, the Afro-Descendent Social Movement will lead a march to the Mountain Barracks, site of the resting place of former President Hugo Chávez, who was a champion of the rights of Afro-Venezuelans.
At 2 p.m., several Afro-Venezuelan activist groups will meet at the Bolivarian Museum to discuss a strategic plan and solidify legal, political, economic and social proposals with the Afro-Descendent Social Movement.
“[President] Chávez was among the most committed to settling this historic debt with Afro-descendent peoples and to highlighting our African and indigenous roots,” said Karolge Guevera, Director of the Office of Linking Afro-Descendent Communities.
President Chávez always stressed that Africa was the true motherland. On his Twitter account (@chavezcandanga) he once wrote: “Long live the Afro-descendent peoples! Long live Equality! Long live Liberty! Long live Mother Africa! Long live Mother Abya Yala! Long live our homeland!”
Guevara noted Chávez, who led the Bolivarian Revolution, fought against the euro-centrism of the dominant social classes which Venezuelan society had inherited.
Moreover, she noted that the network of Afro-Venezuelan organizations had accomplished many important things, such as the approval of the Organic Law against Racial Discrimination in 2011.
“We are now waiting for internal policies to be approved that will lead to the creation of the National Institute against Racial Discrimination,” she said.
Guevara then mentioned that this year marks the beginning of the Decade of Afro-Descendent Peoples, as established by a U.N. resolution on March 22, 2012. This resolution urges all member states to take steps to completely eliminate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.
“We must continue to vindicate our heroes and heroines and the legacy of our eternal commander, Hugo Chávez, because it was when he reached the Presidency of Venezuela that the Afro-Venezuelan people achieved visibility and vindication,” Guevara stressed.