During a first round of discussion on May 10, the Venezuelan National Assembly (AN) unanimously approved the Organic Law Against Racial Discrimination. The draft law was passed during a session that was attended by the Network of Afro-Descendents in Venezuela.
The legislation, drafted by the Subcommittee on Legislation, Participation, Warranties, Duties and Rights of Afro-Descendents presided over by the Congressman Modesto Ruiz, will establish mechanisms to prevent, respond to, punish and eradicate racial discrimination by any person, group of persons, public authorities, private institutions and private institutions, and civil, economic, political, cultural, and social organizations.
“No one can say that in Venezuela there is no discrimination, that there is no racism. We have to strive for a value as fundamental as diversity, without lies, without hypocrisy,” said the vice president of the National Assembly, Congressman Aristobulo Isturiz.
Although members of the political opposition voted in favor of the law, some said that the government promotes “social discrimination.” That argument was refuted by Arcadio Montiel, member of Podemos, an opposition party. Montiel told his fellow conservatives that they should have enough courage to adopt the law.
“I have to congratulate Arcadio (Montiel) for his statement. I have to congratulate him,” said Congressmen Carlos Escarrá.
In addition, the legislature also approved the agreement in support of peoples of African descent in Venezuela and the commemoration of 216 years of the liberal cause of José Leonardo Chirinos, a Venezuelan who led a revolt of of blacks and mulattos against the colonial authorities in 1795. The commemoration of that event has been celebrated as “Afro-Venezuelan Day” since 2005.
Enrique Arrieta, a member of Afro-Venezuelan movement, highlighted the struggle of black communities to conquer the space they have so far obtained, largely in part to the revolutionary process taking place in the country.
Arrieta said that today indigenous groups and Afro-descendents are still victims of a society that is “structurally racist,” thus requiring the need for more radical transformation of the country’s political, economic and social system.
In Venezuela, May is designated as Month of the Afro-Descendents. During this month, Venezuela has sponsored out a series of activities in different parts of the country to continue with the policies propelled by President Chávez to promote inclusion and recognition of the Afro-Venezuelan population.
Read our Fact Sheet about Afro-Venezuelans and the fight against racism in Venezuela
Learn more about Modesto Ruiz (Chairman of the Subcommittee on Legislation, Participation, Warranties, Duties and Rights of Afro-descendents).
World YVKE / Press-Venezuelan Embassy to the USA / May 11, 2011