Though the issue of race and ethnicity and equality has become increasingly important in cultural and political debate during the course of the 20th and 21st centuries there remains a significant degree of inequality and prejudice. This prejudice is not directed solely at indigenous peoples. Historically, Latin Americans of African decent have been similarly discriminated. Racial and social hierarchies laid down in the colonial period have been so internalised by Latin Americans of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds that race, ethnicity, social status, poverty, literacy, access to healthcare and education continue to be inextricably interrelated.
Cultural diplomacy initiatives are desperately needed to combat the legacies of European colonialism in Latin America. Indeed, the most effective way to erase prejudice is through education and increased inter-cultural contact. We must ensure however, that cultural dialogue and exchange is mutual and that increased recognition and participation of indigenous and afro-descendent groups within Latin American nations does not imply cultural assimilation.