In the International Year of African Descendants, the news comes as a blow to a country whose African population have suffered centuries of discrimination since colonization.
There are almost 10,000 people of African or indigenous descent living in Bogota, constituting the poorest sector of the population in terms of education, living conditions, health and economic progress.
Direct racism is also evident in the city. A sign in a window read “Apartment for rent: but not for a black”. An Afrocolombian girl in Bogota recalled ringing up about an apartment, “When you say you are black, they respond, we don’t rent to blacks.”
Politically, only three out of 184 municipal mayors are black, there are only two black city councilors and in Congress only two seats are held by black people, which could be even less if not for a Constitutional mandate.
The District Institution for Participation and Community Action (IDPAC) are working to change the reality by the development of a public policy for the rights of the Afrocolombian population. “The reality is stubborn, there are still racist practices in Bogota, blacks are discriminated against in labor and socially,” said the director of IDPAC, Victor Mosquera.
Mosquera believes education programs about black culture need to be expanded to forge a better understanding of Afrocolombian culture.
One of the main obstacles preventing progress is that Bogota does not have center for the collection of complaints, said Mosquera. He proposed undertaking an observation to detect and quantify the presence of racism in the city.
It is however, difficult to prove the existence of racism because those who have suffered prefer to suffer in silence to avoid further discrimination, or because it is camouflaged (for example, bars that have restricted access without saying why).