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Latin America excludes Africans: UN

PANAMA CITY--Despite a decade of economic growth across most of Latin America, people of African descent throughout the region still face discrimination and earn less, a U.N. agency said Tuesday.

“Across Latin America there is widespread discrimination based on the color of one's skin,” said Silvia Garcia with the U.N. Development Program.

Discrimination and unfair pay plagues regional residents even though up to 30 percent of Latin Americans — not including the Caribbean where the numbers are higher — are of African descent.

“If you are of African descent and a woman, you are in for double discrimination. It is an explosive mix,” said Garcia.

The UNDP says that a broad average of 20-30 percent of the population across the region is of African descent; numbers of course higher in many countries such as Brazil, the Dominican Republic; and Cuba.

Though growth has been fairly strong in many countries in the past decade, largely on the back of mining, industrial and farm exports — black Latin Americans, along with indigenous people in the region — generally have a worse quality of life and earn less, Garcia said.

She said it was common across the region for these minorities to be underrepresented in politics, have lower educational levels; and to face discrimination from police and other authorities.

“People are not born discriminating against others, or racist. Those are things you learn in school, on the street, in the media and in our families,” Garcia stressed.

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