Seminar On Racism And Racial Discrimination Held In Managua
From December 14 to 21 a United Nations seminar on race and racial discrimination was held in Managua. This seminar was the third in a series of regional seminars promoted by the U.N. in the Decade against Racism and Racial Discrimination that began in 1973.
A United Nations Seminar on Racism and Racial Discrimination was held here in Managua from December 14-22. The seminar was the third in a series of regional seminars on the topic, all of which are part of the U.N. Decade Against Racism and Racial Discrimination which began in 1973. Participants came from all over the world, but primarily from Latin America. In addition to the official delegates named by the invited governments, there were also representatives of several non-government organizations such as the International Indian Treaty Council, the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, and OXFAM; special UN organizations such as the High Commission for Refugees; and special guests invited by the Nicaraguan Government such as representatives of the American Indian Movement and the Institute for Policy Studies.
The presentation by Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement was particularly well received by the delegates. They outlined the long history of discrimination and broken treaties that the Native Americas of the United States have suffered.
Another very moving presentation was that of a member of the Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC) which represents 150,000 persons in Guatemala, 80% of whom are indigenous. The representative denounced the massacres that have been systematically carried out against the indigenous communities in Guatemala by Government forces during the last few years.
As in most conferences, there were no particularly startling or dramatic resolutions. There were, however, reaffirmations to work the elimination of racial discrimination and emphasis on the needs of the indigenous peoples. It called for deepening international relations in the search for more just social structures.
For Nicaragua, the fact that the conference was held here was the most important factor. There have been many accusations abroad of human rights violations and also many attempts to use the problems of the indigenous and Black populations on the Atlantic Coast to increase the problems faced by the Government in implementing the goals of the revolution. Thus, this seminar was an opportunity for people from all over the world to come to Nicaragua and see for themselves what the conditions are. Many of the delegates said they had been quite apprehensive about coming here because of reports that they had read in the news media about conditions here. Some governments, including the United States, cautioned people against coming. Many of the delegates as well as many of the UN personnel who were helping with the seminar, publicly expressed their anger at the distortions of the Nicaraguan reality in the exterior.
We would like to present some excerpts from an interview with Theo Van Boven, the Director of the Division on Human Rights of the UN and the representative of the Secretariat of the UN at the Seminar.
We also include excerpts from the speech given by Comandante Tomás Borge, Minister of the Interior, at the closing ceremony if the Seminar. His comments reflect the Nicaraguan government’s position on human rights and racial discrimination.