Afro-Ecuadorean challenges in upcoming Presidential Elections in Ecuador

Posted on February 12, 2017 • Filed under: Ecuador, Politics, Social Issues reported Afro-Ecuadoreans have achieved unprecedented gains under President Correa but political participation and education are crucial to end structural racism.

As Ecuador prepares for its presidential and parliamentary elections, the Afro-Ecuadorean community braces for the challenges ahead while recognizing the gains that have been made by outgoing President Rafael Correa and his Alianza Pais party, Afro-Ecuadorean lawmaker Alexandra Ocles told teleSUR in a recent interview.

Ocles, who was the first Afro-Ecuadorean to enter the national assembly in history, highlighted some of the many gains her community scored under Correa’s government over the past decade.

“There is a tacit acknowledgment of the Afro-Ecuadorean people as a constituent part of the state and the Ecuadorean people,” Ocles said as black and white photos of U.S. civil rights activists Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X hung behind her at her office in the capital of Quito.

“I believe it is one of the fundamental actions because it was one of the historical demands of the Afro-Ecuadorean people,” she said.

She went on to highlight the inclusion of “the principle of equality and non-discrimination” in the country’s constitution in 2009, which, according to the legislator, was the result of the hard work of different social movements that pushed for the Afro-Ecuadorean agenda within the socialist government.

Under Correa’s Citizens’ Revolution, the government brought millions of people out of poverty including many within the Afro-Ecuadorean community where poverty was reduced by 20 percent according to official figures.

Ocles further touched on gains made in the educational sector, which she identified as a principle factor in the struggle for bettering conditions of her community, highlighting that access to schools and universities has significantly increased among Afro-Ecuadoreans.

Access to schools is currently at more than 95 percent for Afro-Ecuadorean children compared to 88 percent before Correa took office 10 years ago, while access to university went from 44 percent to more than 60 percent in the last decade.

Just as in the rest of South America, Afro-Ecuadoreans can trace their ancestry back to African slaves that were brought to the northwestern shores of the continent by the Spanish empire in the 16th century.

Even after the abolishment of slavery, they continued to suffer as slave labor in plantations across the country owned by the Spanish-descendant landowners. Read Article

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