A public ceremony will be held to apologize to African-Peruvians, who make up 5-10% of the population. Their ancestors were brought as slaves to the region by Spanish [invaders].This announcement has been made days before the commemoration of the end of slavery in Peru, ordered in December 3, 1854 by president Ramon Castilla.
Women's and Social Development Minister Nidia Vilchez said the government wanted the apology to promote the "true integration of all Peru's multicultural population," Associated Press news agency reported.
This apology is a positive action indeed, but it's nothing more than a beautiful speech because the every day actions of the Peruvian State preach the opposite. This is a government that kills its Indigenous peoples -remember Bagua- and continue policies that privilege its White citizens.
As a post-colonial nation, there are still many social conflicts remaining in Peru as products of racial and class divide, and to change that, there is a need for much more than just apologies and good intentions.
This photo taken in 2005 shows an advertising sign in the streets of Lima with a Black man presented as a cannibal under the word "African" while several White women are presented as symbols of beauty. Photo by Barry Bar
Peru is a country where a minority of Hispanics and other European descendants control the economy, politics, culture and religious groups, and part of them promote a deep racism among the national population which is 80% of Indigenous Amerindian heritage -including mixed Natives- and 10% of African roots.
Racism against Blacks is everywhere in Peru, this is a good example:
This video shows a recently released TV commercial where an African family is presented as cannibals. The ad was created by El Comercio a right-wing newspaper owned by rich families of Peru and Colombia, and a publication that often promotes racism by posting images of only White people in their advertising and social events sections.
Translation:This advertising is only one example of the racism that non-White people have to face in Peru, where a mentality and culture of white supremacy is promoted at all levels, from the public education system, the religion, to mass media. Too often, in Peru being white gives you privileges and being Black or Brown takes your rights away.
“In the tribe […] a mother tells her son: ‘What did you eat?’ ... ‘I ate a fat one mother” responded the kid, “They are full of fat and cholesterol” tells him the upset mother, and then she states “learn from your brother, he eats healthy” [the other son is 'cooking' a white man] “Eat healthy and be healthy, El Comercio brings you tasty and healthy food with a collection of delicious recipes and advice from experts in cooking and nutrition, every Tuesday and Thursday is free with El Comercio.”
The government of Peru may apologize all they want, but as long as they allow this kind of trashy racist media, little progress can be made to stop racial discrimination. IF they really meant to stop the abuses that Afro Peruvians have to endure, the government of Peru should pass and enforce legislation that will prevent racist practices, and punish those like El Comercio newspaper, who continue portraying Black Africans in demeaning ways.
Finally, El Comercio should remove this offensive advertising and do some training with its staff on the horrendous consequences of racism in human history. We all make mistakes, and also we can correct them. It's never too late for change.
Update December 1, 2009 - El Comercio apologizesEl Comercio has posted a short apology in the "readers letters" section, lamenting what they call a mistake made by creating such a racist advertising. This is a brief translation I made of a letter published by the newspaper's Directors:
We regret deeply that this advertising... was created and reposted along in a racist context, which the directors of El Comercio didn't authorize and reject in every way. The story we intended didn't follow our editorial line and didn't consider the basic respect for human rights, that's why we have removed the ad from all TV channels. El Comercio since its creation has promoted the end of slavery and equality among all Peruvians, that is why we are hurt to know we offended a collective human group that we have always respected and supported. We offer our most sincere apologies to all of whom felt affected by the ad content and we will take the most drastic actions to prevent that a situation of this kind will ever occur again.Not enough. This brief but direct apology -this has never happened with El Comercio as far as I know- is not sufficient to correct the damage done.
This letter doesn't mention any actions to punish or educate the people who created this ad. Secondly, a letter published in the "letters" section of this newspaper will not be read by thousands of Peruvians (especially children) who already saw the commercial on national TV.
Therefore, El Comercio should post this apology in all the TV stations that aired the offensive ad. Also the paper should publish educational content on its pages that celebrate the valuable contributions of African descendants in Peru.
Actions speak louder than words.