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  • Choco, home to large Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities, is currently the poorest department in the country. Some 65.9 percent of Choco’s population now live below the poverty line, according to Colombia Reports.

    Choco, home to large Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities, is currently the poorest department in the country. Some 65.9 percent of Choco’s population now live below the poverty line, according to Colombia Reports. | Photo: AFP

The IMF says the vast majority of the communities across the continent continue to suffer discrimination, violence and poverty.

In recent years, the world has seen massive protests against the commemoration of Christopher Columbus day on October 9 with many nations choosing to replace it with a celebration of Indigenous communities.

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Ongoing demonstrations denouce the fifteenth century explorer as the man responsible for decimating the first peoples and nations of the "Americas."  

Indigenous communities make up about 13 percent of the total population in Latin America in countries including Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the vast majority of the Indigenous communities across the continent continue to suffer discrimination, violence and poverty.

"For the five countries with the largest indigenous populations, poverty rates for indigenous peoples remained virtually stagnant over the past decade," Gillette Hall and Harry Anthony Patrinos, said in an IMF report.

In 1990, Ecuador hosted the first ever Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance, attended by nearly 400 people from 120 various Indian Nations, International organizations. The historic Declaration of Quito was signed during the event.

"Genocide and ethnocide have been committed against us Indian people by European invaders in the name of "God, civilization and democracy" the statement said.

"The Indians of America have never abandoned our constant struggle against the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exploitation which were imposed upon us as a result of the European invasion of our ancestral territories," it added.

Some Latin American countries have chosen to officially recognize the days of Indigenous resistance under different names.

For example, Bolivia's first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, changed the day's name to "Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America."

Meanwhile, Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa initiated a “Day of Inter-culturality and Pluri-nationality."

Argentina named it the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity," while Nicaragua and Venezuela adopted the day as "The Day of Indigenous Resistance."

"Our struggle is not a mere conjunctural reflection of the memory of 500 years of oppression which the invaders, in complicity with the "democratic" governments of our countries, want to turn into events of jubilation and celebration," the 1990 Quito Declaration said.

"Our Indian People, Nations and Nationalities are basing our struggle on our identity, which shall lead us to true liberation. We are responding aggressively, and-commit ourselves to reject this "celebration," it added.

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October 12: Day of Indigenous Resistance

Many cities in the U.S. have also ditched Columbus day for a celebration of Native American culture and life.

52 cities across the country have now replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Inspired by the Quito Declaration, one of the first cities to make the move was Berkeley, California.

Others include Amherst, Northampton in Massachusetts,  Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Cruz in California, San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lawrence, Kansas.; Boulder, Colorado, Portland and Seattle.

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