Topic: Combatting Racism & Xenophobia
Delegate: Krish Saxena
School: Troy Athens High School
Xenophobia, in its most raw terminology, takes a negative stance upon the presence of
foreigners or people from another country. Racism, in contrast, stems from the ideology that
one’s race is superior to all others, most commonly applied in forms of prejudice or
discrimination. Both racism and xenophobia have resulted in various modes of conflict,
sometimes volatile and/or immensely concerning. Within Colombia, both racism and xenophobia
have appeared in extreme measures, especially recently.
When socialist autocrat President Nicolas Maduro took office in Venezuela in 2013, oil
output, the Venezuelan economy’s mainstay, had plunged as the state producer ran out of money.
Hyperinflation made the currency worthless, and malnutrition became endemic, causing
Venezuelans to flee their country in hopes of living a more stable life. These refugees often
ended up in neighboring countries, the most common being Colombia. Over 4 million
Venezuelans have seeked refuge in Colombia within the past 5 years, causing many Colombians
to feel pressured to pick a side: to be friendly towards these refugees, or to act aggressively upon
them in hopes of steering them in the direction which will take them back to their country.
Unfortunately, the latter has been occurring in Colombia, with anti-immigrant groups
participating in “Venephobia.” The issue at hand in Colombia, however, is not the
discrimination. The real issue is that over 100,000 Venezuelans flee their country per month,
with Colombia being the largest receiver of refugees by a significant amount. If South American
nations want a healthy relationship between its various states, countries must first begin to enact
laws that prohibit the heavy influx of non-residents into neighboring countries, which often leads
to densely populated areas, a catalyst for Colombians to utilize xenophobia.
Without a doubt racism may be one of Colombia’s most prominent issues since the 16th
century. Racism has frequently been used against the Afro-Colombian, or black Colombian,
people. Ever since Afro-Colombians arrived to Colombia in the early 1700s, they have been
labeled a minority group by the Colombian government, exposing them to various forms of both
racial discriminations and inequalities. The racism in Colombia is so extreme that it can get
Afro-Colombians stopped for just looking suspicious. For instance, Afro-Colombians are
prevented from getting into some nightclubs and restaurants simply due to their features or
differences. They are denied entrance to certain places where many elites and tourists usually go
to, which insinuates they are “less important.” They are moved aside and questioned because of
their skin color while other people are able to get in without further questioning. This form of
oppression is not handled by the Colombian government at any stance, so, as the delegate of
Colombia, we would like to see suggestions of governmental action to be taken to lessen the
extreme racism harming the Afro-Colombian community. Other than Afro-Colombians, there are
minute differences in race, so racism is not as prevalent.
- Krish Saxena