Partnership Promotes Religious Tolerance in Latin America

PADF and Facing History Renew Commitment to Education, Dialogue 

Washington, D.C (March 10, 2015) – Two nonprofit organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to promote religious tolerance in Latin America. The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and Facing History and Ourselves both work toward the common goals of sustainable development, democracy and human rights.

Alarmed by an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric and religious discrimination in Latin America, PADF and the U.S. Department of State launched a “Believe in Tolerance” (Cree en la Tolerancia) project in fall 2013. They called upon organizations like Facing History and Ourselves to create educational materials and promote awareness on the issue.

“Religious freedom is a universal human right,” says Luisa Villegas, director of programs for South America at PADF. “Our Tolerance campaign has seen tremendous success in raising awareness and changing perceptions. We look forward to a continued partnership with Facing History to keep these important discussions going.” A collaboration between PADF, Facing History and other civil society organizations, the “Cree en la Tolerancia” online platform serves as a clearinghouse for information related to religious tolerance—including anti-Semitism—in Latin America. The site also includes a series of educational resources for raising awareness about issues related to religious intolerance.

Facing History hosted several online workshops to discuss myths and stereotypes about religious groups. Hundreds of participants from a dozen countries participated. “Our workshops empower people to begin conversations about anti-Semitism and religious intolerance in their communities,” says Karen Murphy, international director of Facing History and Ourselves. “We hope our continued work with PADF will challenge people to question their assumptions.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, many people in Latin America hold anti-Semitic views including 41 percent of people in Colombia, 30 percent in Venezuela and 24 percent in Argentina. Across the Americas, one quarter of the population has not heard of the Holocaust.

This two-year agreement establishes a renewed commitment between the two organizations to promote awareness and tolerance of religious diversity.

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About PADF
PADF is the non-profit foundation of the Organization of American States, established in 1962 to implement integral socio-economic development programs for disadvantaged people, to strengthen civil society and community groups in support of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and to aid victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2014, it helped more than 15 million people in 27 countries. Headquartered in Washington DC, PADF has field offices in Colombia, Haiti, Suriname, Belize and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

About Facing History
Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization 501(c) (3) whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.