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The prologue provides a brief introductory overview of the changing relations between black communities in Colombia and the state. It examines the country’s Constitution of 1991, which was meant to democratize state structures and ensure increased popular participation in the decision-making processes at national, regional, and local levels. Although the process of constitutional reform was not overtly aimed at ethnic minorities, the debates on increasing popular participation opened a space for black and indigenous populations, into which issues of ethnicity and nationality could be thrust. The prologue examines the ensuing legislation, in particular Law 70 of 1993, and briefly discusses some black community organizations that formed to press the state over collective land rights in the Pacific Coast region.

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