Afro-Descendent Communities in the Americas

March 22, 2006 - 2:00 pm

New York City holds the greatest diversity of African descendants. It is the prime location to bring community organizations that represent African descendants and the city’s diverse policy-making leadership together. The importance of forging lasting connections between the Afro-Latino movements of the Americas and the Caribbean with our communities in the United States has never been more relevant as the population of Afro-Latinos in and outside the United States continues to grow. This seminar will facilitate a discussion around these emerging issues, emphasizing the importance of making the concerns of Afro-Latinos part of the national and international dialogue. Panelists include: Epsy Campbell-Barr of Costa Rica, Sergia Galván of the Dominican Republic, Beatriz Ramirez Abella of Uruguay, Ivete Sacramento of Brazil, Dorotea Wilson of Nicaragua, Maria Eliza Velazquez Gutierrez of Mexico, Zulia Mena of Colombia, and Nirva Rosa Camacho Parra of Venezuela.


Epsy Campbell-Barr, Costa Rica
Epsy Campbell Barr is a human rights activist, dedicated to public service and is also a university professor and an economist. Ms. Campbell Barr ran for Vice-President in the February Costa Rican national elections as a candidate of the Accion Ciudadana political party. She is a member of the forum for social equity of the Inter-American Development Bank and of the continental organization of the Inter-American Dialogue of the Center for Afro-descendent Women (Centro de Mujeres Afro-descendientes) and of the Organization of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latin American women (Red de Mujeres Afro-caribenas y Afro-Latinoamericanas).

Sergia Galván, Dominican Republic
Sergia Galvan is the director of the Collective for Women and Health (Colectiva Mujer y Salud) in the Dominican Republic. She and her organization work towards raising awareness among women’s organizations, networks, groups and associations regarding the key elements of the law on social security and health from a rights-based perspective. Currently she is the director of public policy of the Secretary of State of Women in the Dominican Republic.

Beatriz Ramirez Abella, Uruguay
Beatriz Ramirez Abella has been very involved with the black population in Uruguay for over thirty years. Over the past decade, she has been responsible for the management of Red de Mujeres (women’s network) in the Latin American region; founded and led the first cooperative for women of African descent in Uruguay; and co-founded Alianza Estrategica (“Strategic Alliance”) in Costa Rica. Since the year 2000 Ms. Ramirez Abella has been part of a network of teachers of the Instituto Superior de Formacion Afro which also teaches about issues pertaining to gender, ethnicity, and class.

Ivete Sacramento, Brazil, UNEB-Magnifica Reitora
Professor Sacramento’s interest in rural education and extension campuses is the hallmark of her directorship at the Bahian State University, where she established satellite campuses throughout Bahia State, and implemented the widest affirmative action and quotas campaign in the history of Brazilian higher education. Her courage as an educator, innovator, and social activist has earned her international support and recognition, particularly among African Descendant populations throughout the Americas, Africa, and Europe.

Dorotea Wilson, Nicaragua
Dorotea Wilson, is a prominent leader in Nicaragua’s “Atlantic Coast Autonomous Region” and a member of the Sandinista National Executive. Ms Wilson played a prominent role in the establishment of the region and in fighting for the rights of the country’s indigenous population. She is an advocate for the rights of women of color in general and those from rural areas in particular. Ms. Wilson has served as the Mayor of Puerto Cabezas, one of the major cities on the Atlantic Coast, a member of the National Parliament and the government of the Autonomous Region.

Maria Eliza Velazquez Gutierrez, Mexico
Mrs. Velazquez Gutierrez is a full time researcher in the Direccion de Etnologia y Antropologia Social (Social Anthopology and Ethnology Center) and has been the coordinator of its permanent curriculum “Poblaciones y Culturas de Origen Africano en México” (Cultures and Communities of African Origin in Mexico) since 1997. In addition to her professorship at the Maestria en Museos de la Universidad Iberoamericana and her active participation in international conferences, Ms. Velazquez Gutierrez has authored several books including the award winning Mujeres de la Capital Novohispana, siglos XVII y XVIII.

Zulia Mena, Colombia
Zulia Mena Garcia is the founder of the Consejo Colombiano de Mujeres Negras, COMUN, (The Colombian Council of Black Women), and co-founder of the Ethnic Movement of Black Women. She has served as advisor of the Territorial Afro- Chocó Collective and as a consultant for ethnic and social projects. She has also served as advisor to Choco’s governor on issues of ethnicity and culture. In addition, Ms. Mena Garcia has participated intensively in national and international forums and conferences on race and ethnicity and the rights of African descendant women, and has published extensively on issues related to women’s rights, ethnicity, culture, territorial rights, racism and the Colombian armed conflict.

Nirva Rosa Camacho Parra, Venezuela
Nirva Rosa Camacho Parra is a specialist in family counseling and education, and works as a Psychologist at the Center for Child Development at La Guaira. Prior to this position she served as Executive Secretary at the Women’s Institute Foundation in the State of Vargas. Ms. Camacho-Parra has participated extensively in workshops and women’s forums addressing the situation of Afro-Venezuelans and issues such as economy and women; human relations, leadership and authority, and issues related to gender and politics. She is a member of the Cumbre Nacional de Mujeres Afrodescendientes and of the Red de Mujeres de Vargas. She has served as coordinator of the network of Afro-Venezuelan organizations and as organizer of the National Conference of Afro-descendant Women, from 2001 through 2005.