For UN Rapporteur Brazil Needs Affirmative Action to Deal with Marginalization

Racial discrimination is a structural and historical problem in Brazilian society, according to Doudou Diène, special rapporteur for the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Intolerance.

At the invitation of the Brazilian government, Diène spent 10 days meeting with representatives of the government and civil society and visited Salvador, Recife, Pesqueira, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. His trip to Brazil ends today with a meeting with president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in Brasí­lia.

Conversing Tuesday, October 25, with the press, Diène emphasized three motives behind his visit to Brazil. The first reason is the country’s cultural, racial, and ethnic richness. The second reason is the possibility of a reflection on the formation of Brazilian society, which, in his view, possesses, besides this diversity, foundations built on a conservative, exclusionary, and colonial model. He refers to this characteristic as "structural ethnic racism."

The third and final reason for his visit to Brazil is to verify what the country has done to promote racial equality. "Based on all of this, therefore, I decided to come to Brazil to appraise the precise reality of the situation," Diène affirmed.

In Brazil the rapporteur visited Brasí­lia, Salvador, Recife, Pesqueira, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. During his visits he met with representatives of shantytown communities, communities of descendants of runaway slaves, and indigenous communities.

"I also visited the Maré shantytown in Rio, where I could observe that, despite the violence surrounding it, it is really trying to discover its own solutions, for its self-esteem and survival," Diène commented.

Diène affirms that these are preliminary surveys and will be released on the 7th in the UN General Assembly. According to him, the final report should be ready in December and published in February.

His recommendation to Brazil was: "I think that affirmative actions in societies that have historically been discriminated, men, women, and children, are policies that have to be adopted. It is the only way to rectify this marginalization."

Agência Brasil

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