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Granma International Digital, August 31, 2001
August 31, 2001
Fidel in Durban:
"WE CANOT ANALYZE RACISM WITHOUT LINKING IT TO CONQUEST, EXPLOITATION"
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
"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
FIDEL DENOUNCES US BOYCOTT OF THE SUMMIT AGAINST RACISM
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
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.
RACIAL DESCRIMINATION STILL A SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM IN THE UNITED STATES
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.
KOFI ANNAN OPENS DURBAN CONFERENCE WITH CONCILIATORY SPEECH
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
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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