Venezuela: Change in the 2011 Census for Afro-Venezuelans

For several years, the Network of Afro-Venezuelan Organizations, made up of 30 groups in that country, urged the administration of Hugo Chavez Frias to take on several issues to recognize and uplift Venezuela’s black population.

 

The Network has advocated for a reform of the constitution to recognizes the nation’s multi-ethnicity and respect Afro-Venezuelan rights.  The 1999 Constitution recognizes the nation’s indigenous population, but does not specifically reference the rights and existence of its blacks.  Allegedly, at the time it was being drawn up, legislators rejected the idea.

 

The Network has also worked for the acknowledgement of Afro-Venezuelan history in school curriculum; the creation of a federal-level ministry to implement the World Conference Against Racism’s “Durban Plan of Action”; and the creation of an Afro-Venezuelan Ministry, to address the everyday lives of blacks in the country.

 

One of its recent successes is the creation of a new census that categorizes and counts Venezuela’s black population.  For the first time ever, Venezuela’s 2011 Census will include a question that allows individuals to identify themselves as being Afro-descendent. This move came at the behest of the Network, fighting for the explicit recognition of the Afro-descendent population in Venezuela.

 

It’s hoped that a census count will better allow Venezuela to recognize its diversity and respond accordingly to the specific needs of different groups.  The Network of Afro-Venezuelan organizations estimates that there are more than seven million Venezuelans of African descent.

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