Most countries in general have achieved important progress in implementing laws aimed at eliminating racial discrimination, however world powers have used used racism to justify domination of other nations or groups, the Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Jose Francisco Cali Tzay told teleSUR in an exclusive interview.
“Traditionally European countries created this justification of racism to dominate other nations, but today this has shifted toward larger communities that attempt to dominate others claiming superiority over others in order to justify their domination,” he reiterated.
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Cali Tzay is the first indigenous person to be a member of the CERD, which he now presides. He is a Mayan Kaqchikel from Guatemala and knows very well how the indigenous communities around the world have been victims of racial discrimination and even violent domination by Europeans.
However, Cali Tzay is moderate in when pointed out which countries have the worst record in racial discrimination.
“The United States has a very serious problem of racial discrimination, but so do many European countries and there is one Latin American country that doesn't want to admit it has a problem ... they are in denial, but for diplomatic reasons I cannot disclose which country it is,” he stated.
Peeople need to understand there is only one race in all the world ... the human race.
The U.N. official explained that in theory many countries have made important advances in racial discrimination eradication, but in practice there “is still great cynicism in this matter and it is generating hatred and violence.”
“There is only one race around the world and that is the human race, so in theory there is no basis for racial discrimination,” Cali Tzay said.
The CERD chair said, “Since the fall of Apartheid in South Africa (in 1994) many believed there would no longer be racial discrimination, but a new social disease has developed with new forms of passive racism.”
In fact, in South Africa white supremacy has taken new forms and continues to dominate the majority of business and lands.
When Cali Tzay was talking of cynicism and new forms of racial discrimination, he was talking about how people police racial profiling, and social programs that don't cater to the needs of the more vulnerable sectors of society, such as immigrants and other minorities.
And perhaps unwillingly back in 2010, professor and journalist Robert Jensen wrote an article in Counterpunch entitle “Apartheid is dead in South Africa, but a new version of white supremacy lives on.”
In it, Jensen quoted black South African People's Health Movement activist Nkwame Cedile saying, “During apartheid the racism of white people was up front, and we knew what we were dealing with. Now white people smile at us, but for most black people the unemployment and grinding poverty and dehumanizing conditions of everyday life haven’t changed. So, what kind of commitment to justice is under that smile?”
Cedile also told Jensesn that it is groundless to believe that hundreds of years of slavery that led to racism, the colonization of many regions around the world by European empires which massacred millions of indigenous people, enslaved millions more, while stripping them of their lands, would end in just a couple decades.
Capitalism and Racism
While denying that capitalism is the cause of racism despite that this system is based on the exploitation of people by people for capital gain, Cali Tzay did recognize that, “Racism thrives in capitalism,” and added that, “multinational extractivist companies today are responsible for deplorable atrocities against humanity and in many countries they violate the rights of indigenous people.”
Maybe being conciliatory, he said, however, that the CERD has handed down many resolutions and recommendations to these international conglomerates, who, he added, have implemented positive changes.
Global Issues editor Anup Shah wrote in 2002 that, “As the new millennium emerges, trends in global human rights are changing. Human rights issues are crossing sovereign boundaries and are no longer just issues of the state.”
This agrees with Cali Tzay's statement that globalization is causing new forms of racism to develop. Multinationals have great economic power and with it comes great political power which gives this companies influence over governments forcing them to allow conditions like cheap labor and sweatshops, and so on.
Many theorist and activist agree that capitalism thrived by slavery, and that racism is the product of slavery.
The Workers International League (WIL), a social movement in the U.S., published a story in August of 2014 in the Socialist Worker website, saying "You Can't Have Capitalism Without Racism."
They included a famous quote by Malcolm X stating it sums up a “profound truth about the world we live in. Capitalism is a system based on inequality, exploitation, oppression, and discrimination.”
Malcolm said: “You can't have racism without capitalism!” And the WIL concluded: “To end racism and all the evils that come with it, we must end capitalism!”
Despite racism still being a huge problem around the world, Cali Tzay expressed optimism that it could be eradicated.
“I do believe racism can be eradicated, but this can only happen if all countries in the world commit to put in place a very serious educational program from the earliest ages of children teaching them that nobody is beyond nobody else, nobody is superior nor are they inferior,” Cali Tzay asserted.
Latin American against Racism
Cali Tzay praised the progress made in many Latin American countries at least in legislature aimed at increasing equality and social inclusion of all ethnic groups.
There is still much to be done in regards to the elimination of racial discrimination, but countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela and others have created new laws protecting the rights of indigenous communities.
“Bolivia, Venezuela and El Salvador have achieved an important political and judicial transformation that has greatly benefited the indigenous and Afrodescent peoples of the region,” he said.
But as new forms of discrimination emerge, education prevails as the most crucial way to end racism, he concluded.