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Fidel at World Conference Against Racism-Granma

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    Via NY Transfer News * All the News That Doesn t Fit Granma International Digital, August 31, 2001 August 31, 2001 Fidel in Durban: WE CANOT
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      Via NY Transfer News * All the News That Doesn't Fit

      Granma International Digital, August 31, 2001

      August 31, 2001

      Fidel in Durban:


      by Jorge V. Jaime
      Prensa Latina special correspondent

      DURBAN, Aug 31--President Fidel Castro criticized all forms of racism and
      noted that that phenomenon cannot be approached without linking it to the
      effects of Third World exploitation.

      Today August 31, the Cuban leader took part in a roundtable with 14 other
      heads of state, mostly African, attending the World Conference against
      Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related forms of Intolerance,
      which opened today at the Durban International Conference Center.

      Fidel Castro spoke of his perception of former and contemporary racist
      ideologies, gave a brief run-down of African and Asian history and refuted
      racism and other forms of exploitation of the people.

      "We have a rich world and a poor world, and a situation such as that is
      intolerable," he emphasized.

      "Can these problems of racial discrimination be studied without thoroughly
      evaluating the historical exploitation to which they are connected?" the
      Cuban president asked.

      "In terms of the issue occupying us," he added, "I exhort this world
      conference to make a sincere analysis of it. It is the tine to create an
      awareness and gain ground in terms of our objective," he affirmed.

      Later in the session, he commented that following an argument expressed by
      Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Ugandan leader, he ratified the fact that all
      human beings originate from Africa, "we all share a common cradle."

      "Thus I have recourse to my right as an African," stated the Cuban head of
      state, one of the invited presidents to have traveled the furthest distance
      to attend the anti-racist summit, boycotted by the United States before it

      Almost all the countries of the African continent were colonized. On that
      side of the Atlantic was a hemisphere where there were millions of potential
      slaves," Fidel noted.

      Even the Eskimos were "civilized," which, in the parlance of those times,
      above all meant destroying native customs," he observed.

      "The major part of the world has been the object of conquest or
      exploitation, and we cannot analyze racism independently of this
      exploitation and these conquests," he reiterated.

      "Those of us who have been enemies of racism all our lives have a solid
      humanist disposition," he maintained.

      "Science has come to demonstrate totally the opposite of what racist
      ideologies advance. This scourge has received a hefty philosophical and
      scientific blow with research into the human genome," the president

      "As intelligent beings, we all come from the same tree, from the same
      region. There are different levels of intelligence in the world, but that
      does not give anybody the right to enslave others," he emphasized.

      "If Einstein had been born in Soweto he would not have been a genius," he
      pointed out.

      "How many sages have been lost in Africa, where 41% of the population is
      illiterate, through the fault of colonization?" Fidel asked.

      The World Conference Against Racism, in which approximately 8,000 civil and
      governmental delegates are participating, continues its sessions until
      September 7.



      DURBAN, AUG 31 (Granma-- President Fidel Castro is one of the most
      outstanding figures to have arrived in this South African city to
      participate in the World Conference against Racism, initiating its sessions
      this Friday.

      On arriving in Durban, Fidel was received by South African Foreign Minister
      Nkosazana Zuma. The official Cuban delegation to the conference includes
      Felipe Pérez Roque, minister of foreign affairs; José M. Miyar Barruecos and
      Carlos Valenciaga, secretary and member of the Council of State,
      respectively; and Osvaldo Martínez, director of the World Economy Research

      >From the moment that Fidel's imminent arrival was known, hundreds of
      reporters converged on the coastal city's airport to get some statement from
      the Cuban leader.

      Fidel Castro greeted the journalists but informed them there would be no
      comments. However, before leaving Río de Janeiro, Brazil, where he made a
      technical stopover on his way to South Africa, he criticized the position
      taken by U.S. President George W. Bush on the conference. The Cuban
      president pointed out that the United States has been boycotting the
      conference for some time, emphasizing that Washington has been changing its
      position on a daily basis.

      The leader of the Cuban Revolution said he had read that the United States
      would not be sending a high-level delegation and there was no certainty as
      to who would represent the government at the meeting.

      "I imagine Washington will not be totally absent," he commented in reference
      to the Bush administration's attitude, adding: "whether it is correct or not
      is something that distinct U.S. forces will be debating.

      "This (racism) is a very serious problem in the United States," he stated,
      recalling that slavery lasted for more than one century in that country
      after the 13 former British colonies proclaimed their independence.


      Fidel Castro highlighted that the struggles against racial discrimination
      reached a peak in the 1960s under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr.
      and other African-American leaders, but despite the progress made, it
      continues to be a major problem in that country, with a lot to be resolved
      in that area.

      Commenting on the importance of the world conference against racism, the
      Cuban president emphasized that it has great social significance.

      "We have to close ranks," he noted, moving on to recall that some years back
      (1992) he attended another world conference in Brazil on a problem as
      serious as the environment.

      He added: "Brazil played its role and awareness increased. Since then, every
      year concern is mounting over the environment, climatic changes and other

      In a broader historical reflection on the issue of racial discrimination,
      Fidel commented that it is a problem created as a result of colonization and
      slavery, one of the worst scourges suffered by humanity.

      He added that its consequences are linked to the poverty and
      underdevelopment that accompanied the slave system.



      DURBAN, Aug 31 (EFE)--In this city, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has
      opened the first world conference against racism staged by the international
      community in close to 20 years.

      The hour has finally come, affirmed Annan on opening the meeting, attended
      by thousands of governmental delegates and civil groups, in a hope of
      renewing a dynamic of similar events after an 18-year absence.

      Alluding to the controversy surrounding the summit, seemingly a repetition
      of those that led to the breakdown of the 1978 and 1983 conferences in
      Geneva, the UN secretary general acknowledged that the encounter was
      particularly difficult to organize.

      As was the case in the two earlier conferences, the Arab nations and the
      overwhelming majority of Muslim African states attempted to ensure in the
      pre-meetings that the final declaration should include an equation of
      Zionism with racism.

      While on previous occasions that point was the pretext given for the United
      States absenting itself from the meetings, in this case it has been utilized
      by the U.S. administration to send only a low-level delegation to Durban.

      In a speech conciliatory in tone, Annan stated that the Jewish people were
      criminalized at one point in their history and that should never be
      forgotten, in order to stress the need to avoid past errors and to solve the
      Palestinian problem.

      The UN secretary general also attempted to adopt an equidistant position on
      another issue that threatened to upset the summit's convening: the petition
      of certain countries and African non-governmental organizations to agree
      financial reparations for slavery.

      Annan paid tribute to the peoples who were exterminated by their colonizers
      and suffered slavery, but came out in favor of the guilty ones asking for
      pardon before the victims or their descendents receive any financial

      Delegations from the developed countries are headed by ministers,
      secretaries of state or director generals, in contrast with the presence of
      some 15 presidents from some of the poorest nations of the world.

      The majority of leaders present at the conference are African but their
      number includes Cuban President Fidel Castro and Palestinian leader Yaser
      Arafat, received with cheers by participants at the opening session of a
      meeting not expected to yield great results, but one that will serve as a
      starting point for an awareness campaign on racial discrimination.

      At least 250 million people in the world are still suffering from some form
      of segregation based on the color of their skin, in what Annan described as
      painful vestiges of former mentalities.

      The UN secretary general recalled that nobody is born a racist but is made
      one by his or her surroundings, and emphasized that the future battle to
      eradicate racial prejudice should be waged in the field of education. (EFE)

      (c) 2001, Granma International Digital.

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