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At the invitation of the conveners Jean Muteba Rahier (Florida International University [FIU]), Carlos Agudelo (Laboratorio Mixto Internacional [MESO], Institut de Recherche pour le Dévelopement [IRD], France), and Tanya Hernandez (Fordham University School of Law, New York), the “Meeting to Consolidate the International Working Group-Comparative Assessment of the Utility (or Lack Thereof) of ‘Multicultural Legal Instruments’ for Afrodescendants in Latin America” was held at FIU from February 15 to February 17, 2018.

The meeting was funded thanks to a Ford-LASA Special Project award (12th Cycle, 2018), and by additional funds provided by the following FIU units: the Kimberly Green Latin American & Caribbean Center (LACC), the African & African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS), the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies (GSS), and the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED).

The participants in that meeting were:

  • Sofía Lara, Universidad de Caldas, Colombia - Universidad Paris VII, France
  • Jhon Antón-Sanchez, Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales, Quito, Ecuador
  • Jean Muteba Rahier, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
  • Mariela Noles Cotito, Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA
  • Sara Busdiecker, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Alicia Saura, Investigadora Independiente, Uruguay
  • Dayana Rivas Brito, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Venezuela
  • Krisna Ruette Orihuela, University of Manchester, U.K. (ABSENT)
  • Rebecca Lemos Igreja, Universidade de Brasília, Brazil
  • Gianmarco Ferreira, Universidade de Brasília, Brazil
  • Carlos Agudelo, Laboratorio Mixto Internacional (MESO), Institut de Recherche pour le Dévelopement IRD, France 2
  • Gabriela Iturralde Nieto, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico
  • Tanya Hernandez, Fordham University School of Law, New York, USA
On February 17, 2018, the meeting participants listed above decided to transform what had been until then the “International Working Group-Comparative Assessment of the Utility (or Lack Thereof) of ‘Multicultural Legal Instruments’ for Afrodescendants in Latin America” into a formally constituted group called:
In Spanish: Observatorio de Justicia para Afrodescendientes en Latinoamérica (OJALA)
In English: Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America Institute
In Portuguese: Observatório De Justiça Para Afrodescendentes na América Latina; using the abbreviation “OJALA” for all of its iterations in any language.

On February 17, 2018, the meeting participants listed above also voted unanimously 1) to charge Jean Muteba Rahier to produce a draft of OJALA’s Constitution to be circulated and hopefully adopted after due discussions through a vote to take place electronically; and 2) to establish and keep OJALA’s Secretariat at FIU.

The participants in the above-described February 17, 2018 meeting are to be considered the founding members of OJALA.

In March 2019, OJALA’s members voted to change the name of the Observatory in English from “Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America Institute” to “Observatory of Justice for Afrodescendants in Latin America” so to correspond literally to the Observatory’s name in Spanish and Portuguese, and to its acronym in all three languages: OJALA.