Situation of blacks, particularly reports of racially-motivated killings (1994-1998) [COL29847.E]

No reports of racially-motivated killings of black persons in Colombia could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Reports do indicate that political violence has affected some predominantly black communities or leaders, such as the 13,000 people from mostly "Afro-Colombian communities along the Pacific coast" forced to flee their homes due to violence in the region (NACLA Report on the Americas Mar.-Apr. 1998, 33) or the death of a black leader of a civic strike in the "black Pacific Coast" in El Choc├│ in 1987 (ibid. Feb. 1992, 30). However, neither these nor other reports available on violence affecting black Colombians refer to racial motives for the violence.

The following information on trends within the black population of Colombia published in Colombia: A Country Study (1989) was not included with COL16505.E:

In the 1980s, wholly black communities were disappearing, not only because their residents were moving to the cities but also because the surrounding mestizo and white populations had begun moving into black communities. Eventual absorption into the mixed milieu appeared inevitable in the 1980s. Moreover, as blacks moved into the mainstream of society from its peripheries, they perceived the advantages of better education and jobs. Rather than forming organizations to promote their advancement as a group, blacks concentrated on achieving mobility through individual merit and adaptation to the prevailing system.

More recent information on the situation of blacks in Colombia was found in a 6 August 1995 report published on the Internet Webpage of the Minorities at Risk Project of Maryland University's Center for International Development and Conflict Management. The latter report includes a chronology of developments pertinent to the black population of Colombia, including:

27 August 1993: The President ratified Law 70. This law recognizes black communities as an ethnic group and defines the titling of collective land rights to whole black communities on the rivers of the Pacific region. The law gives land rights to communities, but excludes community control over natural resources, subsoils, National Park areas, zones of military importance, and urban areas. It also contains articles to improve education, training, and access to credit for blacks. Black representatives were appointed to the National Planning Council, regional planning boards, and a Consultative Commission to inform the government of the implementation of the law. Discrimination was outlawed against blacks and education must include cultural diversity. Two representative were also appointed positions in the National Constituent Assembly.

December 1993: The government initiated policies to employ black police officers in black community areas, such as the Choco, through scholarship and training programs.

1994: One black congresswoman and one congressman were elected to the National Constituent Assembly.

January 1994: In the western town of Las Chinitas (inhabited by indigenous and black people) guerrilla groups attacked and killed 38 people in the streets.

10 April 1994: Blacks protested outside the Colombian Institute of Anthropology to develop research programs for the study of black populations in addition to indigenous populations. The new Law 70 states that research on black populations must be conducted.

August 1994: A government sponsored policy, called BioPacific, was formulated to improve the land rights and living situations of Afro-Colombians. The policy is aimed at preserving areas of land for black communities and for environmental protection.

13 May 1995: OREWA lobbied the government and held a demonstration against the development of forest lands upon which black-Colombians live. OREWA, which represents blacks and indigenous people, has also lobbied to include blacks in the demarcation of lands in the forest area of the Choco.

15 May 1995: Senator Piedad Corboda de Castro, a black female senator from Colombia, visited the U.S. to build ties between the black communities of both countries. She told the human rights conference members that black-Colombians were still marginalized in society. Aside from the human rights conference which she attended, she met with diplomats, international financial institutions, and African-American organizations.

In addition, the report provides a "risk assessment" on the black population of Colombia:

Black-Colombians have recently mobilized in support of Law 70, which gives them special land rights and recognition as an ethnic group. However, social discrimination and favoritism for "whiter" people still occurs. Moreover, much of the population of Colombia is a mestizaje (or mixture) of Indian, white, and black. Due to this, many people with African descent do not claim that they are black-Colombians, or Afro-Colombians, but rather mestizo or of "European descent." Thus, the lines for defining race and ethnicity are not very clear.

Much of the organization and identification with a black movement is from the Choco region. Black members of this region have mobilized around land, culture, and educational issues. Most times this mobilization was not violent, but rather was in the form of protests and demonstrations. The non-violent organization of blacks seems likely in the future, particularly the development of more organizations and lobbying of the National Constituent Assembly. Further joint organization with indigenous groups also seems likely in the future, especially in response to guerrilla attacks in rural areas. Violent protest and rebellion do not seem likely because many blacks have assimilated into the society and identify with other aspects of the society in addition to their African heritage.

Furthermore, class and economic status seem to influence black identification because studies have found that monetary gain lessens discrimination against blacks in the society.

The Research Directorate was unable to find reports of the situation of Colombian blacks since 1995 in the sources consulted.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Burke, Pamela. 6 August 1995. "Blacks in Colombia (Afro-Colombians of Black-Colombians)." [Internet] [Accessed 10 Aug. 1998]

NACLA Report on the Americas [Washington, DC]. March-April 1998. "One in Every 40 Colombians, a Refugee."

_____. February 1992. Jaime Arocha Rodriguez. "Afro-Colombia Denied."

United States Library of Congress, Federal Research Department. 1989. Colombia: A Country Study. [Internet][Accessed 10 Aug. 1998]

Additional Sources Consulted

Andean Newsletter [Lima]. 1990-98.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Reports. 1991-96.

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. 1974-97.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 1989-98.

Latin American Regional Reports: Andean Group Report [London]. 1992-98.

NACLA Report on the Americas [Washington, DC]. 1990-98.

News from Human Rights Watch [New York]. 1989-98.

Newspapers and periodicals pertaining to the appropriate region.

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, Global NewsBank, NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD (UNHCR Database), World News Connection (WNC).
Note: This list is not exhaustive. Country-specific books available in the Resource Centre are not included.