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Reflections on CABO 16th Assembly

Reflections on CABO 16th Assembly

Central American Black Organization (CABO)
XVI General Assembly

December 1- 4, 2010

The Central American Black Organization (CABO) opened its XVI General Assembly meeting in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica on Wednesday, December 1st 2010.  A severe rain storm delayed many of the arriving delegates forcing them to stay in San Jose overnight, missing the opening ceremonies.  The capital city of San Jose where the airport is located is on the Pacific coast, and Puerto Limon, populated by the largest number of Black people in the country is on the Atlantic coast.

Delegates representing CABO member organizations from Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the United States, along with observers and special guests, participated in this Assembly meeting. Representing organizations address a variety of concerns including those related to woman’s issues, land retention, racial discrimination and the AIDS epidemic.

The conference venue was the Universal Negro Improvement Association’s (UNIA) Liberty Hall, a building which stands as a monument to the legacy of Marcus Garvey, and to self-reliance, identity and struggle.

CABO is a network of African Descendant organizations created to improve the quality of life for Black people throughout Central America and the United States. Discrimination, marginalization and even the issue of invisibility have been conditions faced by the Black people in Central America since their arrival on slave ships over 500 years ago. Since its inception in Dangriga, Belize in 1995, CABO has been on the front line demanding the political, economic social and cultural rights of inclusion for Black people.

Managed by an executive board, CABO’s officers  serve two year terms. Office positions are president, two vice-presidents, secretary, and various secretariats. The secretariats are divided into departments dealing with 1) women’s issues 2) economics 3) culture 4) education and 5) youth .  CABO has within its structure a department that handles fiscal and legal matters concerning the organization. Elections of new officers scheduled for this year were postponed until the next General Assembly meeting schedule for Panama in 2011.

The conference participants were encouraged to hold on to their lands from outside speculators looking to buy lands for cheap. There are plans to build an international highway running from the USA through Central America and spanning the length of South America. Land speculators will be looking to buy the land owned by Black people for very little money. A number of agreements were reached and signed by the directive board of CABO that will move the people of Central America towards bettering their condition. Yes there are over 20 million Black people in Central America and there is a growing consciousness around their African identity.

The Cultural group, Marimba Ensemble from Seattle, Washington, USA performed throughout the conference. The people really enjoyed these rhythms from Zimbabwe South Africa. The bond of Pan Africanism was greatly strengthened at this XVI General Assembly meeting of CABO. It was truly an experience to be in the presence of Black people, young and old, who have taken the mantle for the last 16 years to demand their right to be respected as human beings and to no longer be relegated to invisibility by the dominant Spanish political, economic and cultural hierarchy. The rights to a collective ethnic inclusion as Black people within all governmental and state agencies throughout Central America is supported by the Six Regional Diaspora Caucus (SRDC). We truly encourage Africans Americans to learn the Spanish language and visit the Central American Black communities.

Forward Ever, Backward Never

~Report by: Kumasi Palmer, SRDC Facilitator, South Carolina

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