Millions of Afro-Brazilians, who in some states like Bahia account for 75 per cent of the population, are mired in poverty, lack access to basic services and employment opportunities, and face serious discrimination, injustice and violence. These are some of the key conclusions that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has reached after a just ended weeklong visit to the biggest country in South America, where ingenious people face similar sufferings as the Afro-Brazilians. “While Brazil has an impressive set of laws and policies to promote human rights and improve socio-economic well-being, indigenous groups and Afro-Brazilians face serious discrimination, injustice and violence”, Pillay told reporters on Nov. 13, 2009.
She added that millions of Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people are “mired in poverty” and lack access to basic services and employment opportunities. Brazil has the largest population of black origin outside of Africa. Pillay lauded Brazilian Constitution and legal framework, which “form an impressive foundation of human rights protection”.
Brazilian government has been taking a number of important measures “including this week’s passing by the Congress of a constitutional amendmentdesigned to provide free universal education to children aged 4 to 17”.
The UN High Commissioner noted a number of issues of concern, including the situation of the country’s indigenous people. The fact that she had not seen a single indigenous person among all the many officials she had met during the visit was “very indicative of their continued marginalization”, she stated. For the most part, Brazil’s indigenous people “are not benefiting from the country’s impressive economic progress, and are being held back by discrimination and indifference, chased out of their lands and into forced labor”.
Title: Millions of Afro-Brazilians Victims of Violence and Discrimination
Source: Independent Media Center, November 14, 2009
Author: Bob Narmer
Student researcher: Ariana White
Faculty Evaluator: Elizabeth Grayson-Slater
Sonoma State University