Castro addresses Durban

Barry Stoller bstoller at
Sat Sep 1 10:35:07 MDT 2001

AP (with additional material by Reuters). 1 September 2001. African
Nations Seek Apology.

DURBAN, South Africa  -- African leaders at the World Conference Against
Racism on Saturday asked for Western countries to apologize for the
destruction caused by colonialism and slavery but were divided on calls
for reparations.

An apology would recognize the wrong that was committed against Africans
and constitute a promise that such an atrocity would never happen again,
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said.

With an apology, "the issue of reparations cease to be a rational
option," he said during his formal address to the conference Saturday

In a rousing speech frequently interrupted by applause, Fidel Castro
called directly on the United States to pay reparations for slavery.

"After the purely formal slavery emancipation, African-Americans were
subjected during 100 more years to the harshest racial discrimination,
and many of its features still persist," Castro said. "Cuba speaks of
reparations, and supports this idea as an unavoidable moral duty to the
victims of racism."

The Cuban leader also called on Israel to "put an end to the ongoing
genocide against the Palestinian people that is taking place while the
world stares in amazement."

Noting that Washington has warned it could withdraw altogether before
the conference closes on September 7 unless "offending language" linking
Zionism to racism is removed, Castro told the conference nobody had the
right to dictate to a United Nations gathering.

"(Nobody) has the right to set preconditions to the conference or urge
it to avoid the discussion...(of) the way we decide to rate the dreadful
genocide perpetrated, at this very moment, against our Palestinian
brothers," Castro said.

Castro also said rich states ought to pay compensation. "The developed
countries... have been the main beneficiaries of the conquest and
colonization, of slavery, of ruthless exploitation... of countries that
constitute the Third World."

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Barry Stoller

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