Activist and ethnic organizations in Uruguay have a joint agenda to combat racism and discrimination from an intersectional and territorial perspective


February 24, 2022.- The government of Uruguay ratified the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) on September 11, 2017. Since then, the Afro-descendant and indigenous Charrúa peoples have been working for the implementation of this international legislative instrument in the national context. 

Noelia Maciel, member of the National Afro-Uruguayan Coordinating Committee, recognizes that CIRDI has provided important guidelines for legislation in Uruguay to overcome the issues of racism represented by the lack of access to education, housing and health services, which can now be debated and decided upon. 

The activist also recognizes that the Convention complements Uruguayan legislation in terms of affirmative actions that help close the gaps of racism and inequality, which in turn makes it possible to achieve equal opportunities for the country’s ethnic peoples. Based on the CIRDI guidelines, the Republic of Uruguay succeeded in getting the National Institute of Statistics to include the ethnic variable in its statistical data; however, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of knowledge of the ethnic-racial variable became evident, and social organizations publicly denounced it. 

“When a country ratifies the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, it commits itself to have disaggregated information on ethnic peoples; the inclusion of the variable in all state institutions is a commitment, otherwise, it would be a step backwards in ethnic rights. The State cannot ignore the rights of Afro-descendant peoples and even less so in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic when the impacts of poverty have significantly affected ethnic peoples. Fortunately, the denunciation was well received, and thanks to this, concrete aid was provided to the communities,” said Maciel. 

Since the ratification of CIRDI in Uruguay, the Charrúa indigenous population has also made progress in the recognition and protection of their rights. On February 13, 2022, through Law 19641, the State of the Oriental Republic off Uruguay declared Salsipuedes as a site of historical memory of the Charrúa nation, as a way of apologizing to the families and descendants of those who were massacred there. 

According to Noelia Maciel, the aforementioned advances have been achieved thanks to ongoing updates and training processes. “In the case of the National Afro-Uruguayan Coordinating Committee, we have been training with Race and Equality which has allowed us to advocate in the Inter-American Human Rights system, establish dialogues with parliamentarians and high-level government decision-makers in order to achieve the implementation of CIRDI in accordance with the Uruguayan context”, the activist assures. 

Race and Equality recognizes the commitment of the ethnic peoples of Uruguay to the implementation of the Convention against Racism and will continue to provide technical support to its counterparts and the States that require it so that they become familiar with and appropriate the contents of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance. 

Learn about CIRDI’s achievements in Uruguay

Denouncement of the National Afro-Uruguayan Coordinating Committee for the omission of the race-ethnicity variable in the Continuous Household Survey in 2020.

Photos of the indigenous population, Charrúa:

Photographic record of the training processes carried out in 2017 when the Convention was ratified:

Training process of CIRDI carried out in 2021:

Learn about Law 19641 Recognition of Salsipuedes as a site of historical memory: