Like many Latin American countries, Colombia is a multi-racial country with a European, Indigenous, and African descent population. Since its founding, it has a long history of intercultural contact and immigration, and almost 88% of the population consists of mixed European (Mestizo) and white while Afro-Colombians and Indigenous people account for a total of 11% (CIA Factbook 2021). Colombia officially recognizes this ethno-cultural diversity through constitutional affirmation of multicultural and anti-discrimination legislations. Through the National Bilingual Programme, Colombia has long pursued bilingual education through the inclusion of foreign languages in in school curriculum (De Mejía 2006). However, practical implementation multicultural policies that recognize ethnic and cultural diversity both in schools and in other sectors are limited. Internal conflict and macroeconomic instability also had an effect in Columbian society, leading to a negative net migration. The country’s immigration policy largely reflected this net outflow while a recent surge in immigration from other countries such as Venezuela has led to humanitarian response from the government. Reports also indicate that this may inflame anti-migrant sentiments (Frydenlund 2021).
Colombia has an overall ICDI score of 0.630. High scores in the components of multiculturalism and anti-discrimination indicate a conducive and positive legislative environment in Colombia. On the other hand, mixed scores in the components of social contact and access to communication contribute to a less positive structural dimension, indicating lower levels of cultural participation and reduced exposure and familiarity with minority and migrant populations.
Current Situation and Outlook
Compared to a strong and positive situation around the legislative dimension, Colombia achieves relatively lower scores in some components of the structural and opportunities dimensions. Colombia’s ICDI score could improve if more attention is given to promoting intercultural understanding and sharing access to media and communication, which will aid in strengthening its structural dimension. However, if the situation related to the components of the structural dimension persists, there is a possibility that existing social cohesion will be deteriorate and deepen discrimination.