Latin Americans Denounce U.S. Racism — But Are They Any Better?
Latin American media have joined the chorus that has condemned institutional racism in the United States, but rarely denounce discrimination and violence targeting non-white groups in their own countries.
BOGOTÁ — Latin American media, and thousands of news outlets worldwide, are dedicating wide coverage to the protests in U.S. cities that have united so many Americans of differing backgrounds in expressing their ire at the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman, Derek Chauvin.
Millions around the world are rejecting the racist segregation that White Anglo-Saxon Americans have imposed on African Americans for more than four centuries. Not surprisingly, Latin American media have joined the global condemnation of ongoing civil rights violations and the brutality that include white policemen killing African Americans. Media reflecting a range of opinions have also criticized President Donald Trump's brazen, xenophobic and authoritarian response to the protests.
In Colombia, an editorial in the newspaper El Espectador, observed that Trump preferred war to facing racism and criticized his failure to build bridges instead of doing what he did best, namely "divide, mislead and foment violence." The daily warned of a "dangerous time bomb," and needless to say I share its views.
They stay quiet about the same racism, segregation and exclusion against black Latin Americans.
Yet I also must add a dose of criticism directed at Latin American papers, most of which historically have lacked a coherent editorial policy rejecting with equal vigor the racism afflicting the black population in Latin America. They condemn racism and segregation in the United States, but are quiet about the same racism, segregation and exclusion against black Latin Americans.
Their execration of Trump's racism or of discrimination in the United States should also be directed at the racism of the élites that have held political and economic power for the past two centuries in the southern half of the Americas.
These have historically excluded black and indigenous minorities from the power pyramid and all the benefits of development. Our minorities live in backward, neglected zones, with the lowest living and developmental standards, and the worst levels of access to earnings, education, healthcare and social welfare in this hemisphere.
It is shocking to find Colombian media failing to condemn police and judicial abuses committed every day against Afro-Caribbean Colombians. None of our media condemned the killing last month of 19-year-old Anderson Arboleda. The black youngster from Puerto Tejada in the Cauca department died three days after he was beaten unconscious by two white policemen. Why? He had violated the quarantine. No editorials or press outcry against the "white" policemen: that must be because Arboleda was poor and living in a forgotten district of a marginal part of the country along the Pacific coast. Place matters too.