Inaugurating OJALANews, the Blog of the Observatory of Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America (OJALA)

It is filled with hope for the development of the Observatory of Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America (OJALA) that I write this first entry to introduce OJALA’s blog, “OJALANews.”

OJALANews will be a multi-lingual space receiving postings in either Spanish, Portuguese, or English.  We intend for the blog to promote the circulation of information about the core of OJALA’s focus: Afrodescendants, ethnoracial law (legal instruments recognizing and protecting identity-based collective rights, and anti-discrimination or racial equality law), and the practice of Latin America’s justice systems.

Although it remains open to engage in unforeseen paths, OJALANews plans to do the following:

  • To inform about the various activities the Observatory engages in (see OJALA’s Objectives) to incentivize the construction, accumulation, and sharing of comparative critical knowledge about Afrodescendants, ethnoracial law, and the Latin American justice systems.  We, at OJALA, are convinced that the accumulation and sharing of such knowledge in Spanish, Portuguese, or English, cannot be but beneficial for the promotion and defense of Afrodescendants’ human rights in the region.
  • To inform and alert about new and ongoing legal cases involving Afrodescendants and ethnoracial law in any of the national contexts of the Latin American region.
  • To inform about relevant cases at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and rulings by any international court as they influence international law “jurisprudence” on ethnoracially-based rights, as relevant for Afrodescendants in Latin America.
  • To follow up on and facilitate conversations about the development of new relevant legal instruments adopted by legislative bodies in local and national contexts from across the region, and by multilateral organizations and international courts for the recognition, promotion, and defense of Afrodescendants’ rights in Latin America.
  • To follow up on and facilitate conversations about the termination of ethnoracial legal instruments (adopted since the late 1980s) in specific Latin American national contexts.

OJALA is currently looking and applying for funding to support two initiatives:

1) The consolidation of an international network of country-specific teams to constitute the foundation on which OJALA is to be edified.  These country-specific teams will collect relevant information from their respective countries, relay it to the Miami office of the Observatory, and serve as OJALA’s eyes, ears, and voices.  They provide support to and are directly involved in OJALA’s comparative research projects in the region.

2) The formation of a Repository of archives of relevant legal cases from all national contexts in the Latin American region in which a) multicultural legal instruments, b) anti-discrimination or racial equality law, and/or c) any other relevant legal instrument(s) have been in use for the promotion and defense of Afrodescendants’ human rights.  That repository will be housed in Florida International University Law School Library and made available digitally to attorneys from the region as they litigate new cases, to researchers (mostly graduate students and professional researchers) working on Latin American legal systems’ systematic practices with Afrodescendants, to activists in search of documentation about related legal cases in other countries of the region, to policy makers and their staff, and to the general public.

OJALA intends to lead some related comparative research initiatives in the region in the near future.  We will inform about these in OJALANews as they materialize.  One notable research accomplishment of OJALA that is already worth noting is certainly the forthcoming publication, scheduled for December 2019, of a special issue of the journal Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies (LACES), entitled “Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America: an interrogation of ethnoracial law” (LACES Vol. 14 No. 3; guest-edited by Jean Muteba Rahier). 

OJALA also plans to use the space of the blog to inform about the international initiatives it supports and wants to articulate with, such as–among others–the Civil Society Proposal on the Modalities, Format and Substantive Procedural Aspects of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, or the Concept note for an international civil society-research consortium and mechanism on the human rights of people of African descent (proposed by The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund, Sweden—in collaboration with the UN OHCHR, UNESCO and the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism).

(Any communication to the Miami Office of OJALA should be sent to:

Jean Muteba Rahier, Director/Coordinator

Observatory of Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America (OJALA)

Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America: an interrogation of ethnoracial law

LACES Vol. 14 No. 3, December 2019

Table of Contents


Evaluating the usefulness of contemporary ethnoracial law for Afrodescendants in Latin America through the examination of court cases and the appreciation of the state’s processual nature [Jean Muteba Rahier]

Research articles

The use of multicultural legal instruments in a confrontation between Afrodescendants and indigenous people: the case of Guamal, Colombia [Sofía Lara]

The “multicultural invisibility” of Afro-Venezuelans and their alternative legal politics to fight racial discrimination and acquire ethnoracial recognition: the legal against Cine Citta [Krisna Ruette-Orihuela and Dayana Rivas Brito]

Anti-discrimination law in two legal cases in Ecuador: Afro-Ecuadorian organizations and individuals versus Bonil/El Universo, and Michael Arce versus Lieutenant Fernando Encalada/Escuela Militar Eloy Alfaro [Jean Muteba Rahier and John Antón Sánchez]

The Brazilian law of racial quotas put to the test of labor justice: a legal case against Banco do Brasil [Rebecca Lemos Igreja and Gianmarco Ferreira]

Research notes

The Garífuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz versus the State of Honduras: territory and the possibilities and limits of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights verdict [Carlos E. Agudelo]

The promises and limits of Bolivia’s anti-racism law (Law 045) for Afro-Bolivians: Tundiqui, CONAFRO, and the battle against blackface [Sara Busdiecker]

Latin American Racial Equality Law as Criminal Law [Tanya Hernandez]