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Latin American Anti-racism in a 'Post-Racial' Age - LAPORA


In Ecuador, the concept of ethnicity and later that of race were incorporated as part of the multicultural movement inaugurated in the country since the indigenous uprising of 1990 and the Constitutions of 1998 and 2008. These constitutions incorporated collective rights, recognition, autonomy, education and intercultural health. In addition, the Ecuadorian State recognized important international conventions such as ILO Convention 169, the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of discrimination, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The rhetorical recognition of multiculturalism in the constitutions was accompanied by the creation of state institutions directed at indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian peoples. State development councils were created for peoples and nationalities, namely CODENPE, CODAE and CODEPMOC. Even earlier, at the end of the 1980s, the National Directorate of Intercultural Bilingual Education began to function and years later, the Directorate of Intercultural Health. In addition, the PRODEPINE project for indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian peoples financed small projects based on the idea of development with identity.

The political role of the indigenous movement, especially in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s, placed the issue of the recognition of ethnic identity and collective rights in the national and academic debate. Meanwhile, issues related to race and racism did not appear directly or explicitly on the movement's agenda. However, since the 2001 Durban Conference, race and racism have been taken up on the agendas of the state, and have also been promoted by Afro-Ecuadorian organizations. Concern over racial and ethnic inequality was initially reflected in the survey on racial discrimination in Ecuador carried out by INEC in 2004. In addition, the Ecuadorian state began to generate statistics on social inequality affecting ipeoples and nationalities of Ecuador . The last two censuses (2001 and 2010) included a question about ethnic and racial self-identification. Between these two censuses, the Afro-Ecuadorian movement managed not only to make its population visible but to almost double its percentage in the last census, thanks to the way the auto-identification question was formulated and a successful campaign of self-identification. In contrast, the percentages for the indigenous population have remained consistently low in the last censuses.

The 2008 Constitution refers specifically to racism, affirmative action, and restorative reparations. After this constitutional change, the development councils for indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio peoples have been progressively dismantled and the transition to Equality Councils has not yet been consolidated. There is a constant institutional change in relation to the state institutions responsible for the policy toward indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian peoples. In this period, state initiatives related to racial discrimination emerged with a Plan for Racial Elimination and Ethnic Exclusion and affirmative action policies in the recruitment of personnel in state institutions and in access to higher education.

The implementation of policies against ethnic and racial discrimination and the affirmative action initiatives have been implemented inconsistently. The Plan for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Ethnic Exclusion, for example, only partially achieved its objectives. The mandate of hiring Afro-Ecuadorians, indigenous and montubios in proportion to their percentage in the national population in public institutions has been limited to the hiring of third secretaries in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Affirmative action in institutions of higher education has been implemented through quota systems and scholarships for postgraduate education. Meanwhile, the state maintains diverse relations with the organizations of the indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio movements. CONAIE is in an antagonistic position vis-à-vis the Ecuadorian State, confronting processes of criminalization of social protest and the effects of large-scale mining on territories and indigenous populations. The Afro-Ecuadorian and montubio movements, in contrast, are mostly aligned with the positions of Alianza País.

The context presented here is intended only to give a very general overview and a notion of changes in the management of racial and ethnic differences in the state. From a process of institutionalization after the multicultural shift, there has been a period of re-adjustment (transversalization) and even de-institutionalization (understood as absence of specific state entities for peoples and nationalities) of racial and ethnic issues.

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