Racism in South America

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The article describes the state of race relations and racism in South America. Racism of various forms is found in every country on Earth.[1] Racism is widely condemned throughout the world, with 170 states signatories of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by August 8, 2006.[2] In different countries, the forms that racism takes may be different for historic, cultural, religious, economic or demographic reasons.



In the immediate aftermath of Dom Pedro’s abdication in 1831, the poor people of color, including slaves, staged anti-Portuguese riots in the streets of Brazil's larger cities.[3]

Race relations in Brazil have long been characterized by a belief in racial democracy, i.e. an ideology stating that racial prejudice is not a significant factor in Brazilian society, and that racism is not an obstacle to employment, education, and social mobility the way some believe it is in other countries. This theory has come under fire in recent years by researchers who say that racism is very much a factor in the country's social life.

In a sign that some Brazilian universities have come to see racism as an obstacle to higher education, several of them have created affirmative action programs aimed at increasing the admission of Afro-Brazilians and members of the native population.[4]


There has been racial tension between the Indo-Caribbean people and the Afro-Caribbeans. [5][6] A personal account of racism in Guyana comes from Dr. Kean Gibson an academic at the University of the West Indies.[7] "Whenever I return to Barbados it takes me a couple of days to recover from the trauma of the society. Now that I am in Guyana on a more or less continuous basis, I feel that I am living in a pressure cooker, and like many Guyanese, I just want some relief from the tensions in society. The problem in the country is inequality and the consequences of it with respect to differential distribution, rights and duties (which is what racism is about)."[7]


When the Venezuelan War of Independence started, the Spanish enlisted the Llaneros, playing on their dislike of the criollos of the independence movement. José Tomás Boves led an army of llaneros which routinely killed white Venezuelans. After several more years of war, which killed half of Venezuela's white population, the country achieved independence from Spain in 1821.[8][9]


Bolivia, one of the richest countries in South America, is composed of many cultures, among them, the Aymara and the Quechua. "Pure" Aymara or Quechua people are in general looked down by mestizos and people of European origin. The economical difficulties of the population, the education level of all groups, and the economical level of the natives, accentuates the treatment. The situation has worsened in the last years and the gas rich oriental region has claimed autonomy as a result of the probable redistribution of land which would go from the more privileged people to the less privileged people that in this case would be the Aymara and the Quechua.

On the 10th of October 2012 the Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination (Spanish: Ley 045 Contra el Racismo y Toda Forma de Discriminación; commonly known as the Law Against Racism) was passed by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia as Law 045.[10] This law intends to combat racism and discrimination, but as of February 2014, no convictions had been recorded.[11] Due to this lack of convictions, the legislation has been widely criticised by the Bolivian media.[12]


  1. "Racism and the administration of justice". Amnesty International.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 68th and 69th session". United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Instructional Support Center". Retrieved 17 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Plummer, Robert. "Black Brazil Seeks a Better Future." BBC News, São Paulo 25 September 2006. 16 November 2006 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5357842.stm>.
  5. "BBCCaribbean.com - News - Guyana turns attention to racism". Retrieved 17 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Conflict between East Indians and Blacks". Retrieved 17 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Indian Racism Against Afro Guyanese In Guyana". Barbados Underground. Retrieved 17 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "globalpr.org" (PDF). Retrieved 17 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "A First-Hand Impression of the Venezuelan Opposition". Retrieved 17 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Plurinational Legislative Assembly. Ley 045. October 2010.
  11. Bolivia’s Anti-Racism Law – Not Worth the Paper It’s Written On? [1]. February 2014.
  12. Bolivian press says final anti-racism law softens penalties for media Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas at Austin, December 2010

See also