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Choco and Subsidized Palm Oil Plantation Development Programs

by Lisa J Scott

Chocó, Colombia is a state located in the northernmost region of Colombia. It borders Panama on the north and Ecuador and Peru on the south. It has been classified as one of the most "bio-diverse regions on the planet" and is home to "9000 plant species and 2250 vertebrate species" (McColl 2007). It is also home to about a third of Colombia's 10.6 million Afro-Colombians, descendants of black slaves emancipated in the mid-1800s, and various other indigenous populations (Inter Press Service, 2008).

This region has been a focus of attention recently because of its stores of environmental wealth. While it is rich in both history and culture, the Chocó region also has assets such as timber, gold, and fertile soil that have proved profitable to multinational companies. Corporations such as the Dublin, Ireland-based Jefferson Smurfit Group (a paper packaging firm) and Oil Palm (a palm oil manufacturing plant) have profited from the resources of Chocó, oftentimes with the support of the government (Restrepo 2004). Continued warfare has also been devastating to both the people and the land.

For the past 40 years, a civil war has been waging between the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the far-right paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a war which has escalated in recent years (Mykle 1998). As a result, human rights abuses have occurred on both sides with innocent people caught in the crossfire. As one group takes control of an area, reprisals against suspected enemies are carried out indiscriminately and "millions of dollars from drugs, extortion and kidnappings" are collected via ransoms, with the use of drug trafficking (which traffickers using Chocó’s provincial capital, Quibdo, as part of their route), and black-mail (Oslender, 2008). The diocese of Quibdo documented 700 murders in the area by the AUC between 1996 and 2000 (IPS, 2008) from guerilla warfare.

One of the most tragic events in Chocó’s history occurred on May 2, 2002 in the small town of Bellavista. On this day, 119 villagers were killed and 98 wounded as they tried to escape warfare in the area by hiding in a small church; of those killed 44 were children (Cariboni & Vieira 2007). Reports indicate that the FARC threw a homemade mortar bomb into a church were 900 people were hiding from the crossfire. In COLOMBIA: A Painful Pilgrimage By Diana Cariboni and Constanza Vieira (2007) they discuss how "the roots of [African] tradition go back to the days of slavery, when the slaves celebrated the ‘liberation’ of the children from their bonds. ‘But no funeral rites were possible for the children and unborn babies who died in the church. ‘In the local black culture, the dead have a tremendous importance and influence. They end up determining the existence of the living,’ sociologist Jimmy Viera explained. "Today Chocó has yet to move on and develop due to the civil war, land devastation and its history of violence." read more

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In partnership with:
LUNDU Center for Afro-Peruvian Advancement 



By Lisa Scott


Interviews with over 30 Jamaican immigrants on their pre-migratory perceptions of New York and England

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



by Miriam Jimenéz Román  (Editor), Juan Flores (Editor) 


The book focuses attention on a large, vibrant, yet oddly invisible community in the United States: people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. The presence of Afro-Latin@s in the United States (and throughout the Americas) belies the notion that Blacks and Latin@s are two distinct categories or cultures. Afro-Latin@s are uniquely situated to bridge the widening social divide between Latin@s and African Americans. At the same time, their experiences reveal pervasive racism among Latin@s and ethnocentrism among African Americans. Offering insight into Afro-Latin@ life and new ways to understand culture, ethnicity, nation, identity, and antiracist politics, The Afro-Latin@ Reader presents a kaleidoscopic view of Black Latin@s in the United States. It addresses history, music, gender, class, and media representations in more than sixty selections, including scholarly essays, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, short stories, and interviews.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



By Karen Juanita Carrillo



The proof of any group's importance to history is in the detail, a fact made plain by this informative book's day-by-day documentation of the impact of African Americans on life in the United States.  One of the easiest ways to grasp any aspect of history is to look at it as a continuum. African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events provides just such an opportunity.

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by Karen Juanita Carrillo


The View from Chocó: The Afro-Colombian past, their lives in the present, and their hopes for the future is an introduction to the lives of Blacks in Colombia. Afro-Colombians live in a resource-rich yet remote region of Colombia. They only recently won recognition as one of that nation's distinct ethnic groups. But Colombia's on-going civil war has led many Afro-Colombians to reach even farther than their nation's borders for recognition: many have made their way to the United States as refugees and as political activists working for peace in their homeland. The View from Chocó introduces the lives and struggles of a too-long neglected community of Colombian Blacks. 

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