Castro in Durban

jenyan1 jenyan1 at
Sat Sep 1 12:03:31 MDT 2001

                 We cannot analyze racism without linking it to the
                 conquest and exploitation

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

                 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 began.

                 Almost all the countries of the African continent were
                 colonized. That side of the Atlantic was a hemisphere of
                 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 recalled.

                 "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.

                 Later during the session, in reference to Palestine, the
                 Cuban president noted that Israel had established 64
                 military zones or bantustans there, where some 1.2
                 million people are living in a situation which he
                 qualified as worse than that existing under apartheid
                 South Africa.

                 He likewise detailed the persecution of Europe's Gypsies
                 and the situation of Mexican migrants and the fact that,
                 last year alone, 500 persons from that country lost their
                 lives on the border with the United States, some victims
                 of person trafficking and others at the hands of groups
                 created to hunt down Mexicans.

                 That figure, covering just one year, is higher than all
                 those who died during 29 years of the Berlin Wall's
                 existence, he observed.

                 Fidel's speech came after other participants in the
                 roundtable reviewed the colonial experience in their
                 respective countries.

                 Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni expressed his
                 conviction that the African peoples will overcome the
                 consequences of their "exploitation" without trauma,
                 after recalling that humanity was born on that continent,
                 under whose earth the remains of the first hominids have
                 been discovered.


                 Nevertheless, Paul Kagame, head of state of Rwanda,
                 emphasized that it was the colonizers who laid the bases
                 of our ethnic hatred, in allusion to the genocide which
                 cost the lives of close to one million persons in his
                 country in 1994, victims of confrontation between
                 distinct ethnic groups.

                 Abdoulaye Wade, president of Senegal, made reference to
                 historical studies that "establish that whites in the
                 colonial period believed that black people had no soul,"
                 to underline the "abomination" of slavery.

                 Finally, Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat exposed what he
                 viewed as "the colonization and aggression currently
                 being suffered by our people on the part of Israel, which
                 he charged with maintaining "a mentality of racial

                 Arafat called for the conference's final communiqu "to
                 clearly state what is happening in the Middle East," in
                 reference to the controversy over the possible inclusion
                 of a condemnation of Israel in what is to be known as the
                 Durban Declaration.

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

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