Cuba and the reparations struggle

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Mon Aug 19 07:41:25 MDT 2002

by Walter Lippmann, August 19, 2002.

Thousands of Black people in the United States
marched this weekend to demands reparations
for the descendants of chattel slavery in here in
the country self-titled as the "land of the free".
Following the civil war in the United States, the
people who had been enslaved were famously
promised "forty acres and a mule" but none of
the payment was ever made.

Reparations is a call for simple justice, both in
the form of redress of grievances centuries old,
and for the re-writing of history to recognize the
suppressed harm of the past. My grandparents
received reparations payments from the German
government for their losses during the holocaust
against the Jews of that country. The Japanese-
Americans who were incarcerated during World
War II have received reparations.

A number of gay and lesbian people in Germany
have received (and continue to receive) some
reparations from the government there for the
losses they suffered under the Nazi regime.
Many others have called for and eventually got
reparations. What could be more reasonable?

Now, survivors of the September 11, 2001 acts
of terrorism against the World Trade Center
have filed suit against Saudi Arabia, home of
most of those responsible for those suicide-
hijackings. What could be more reasonable?

The reparations call, were it to be accepted,
would also signify public, social, corporate and
governmental responsibility for the enslavement
of the African peoples in these United States.

The call for reparations by the government of the
United States, and by the corporations which
participated in the slave trade makes sense and
is one which resonates strongly in Cuba.

Last year, Cuban President Fidel Castro spoke
out in support of Reparations at a conference
in Durban, South Africa. Here's the Granma
coverage of Fidel's presentation at Durban
where the United States government tried to
prevent even the DISCUSSION of this topic.

Cuba's GRANMA newspaper has an entire
webpage devoted to the detailed exposition
of the island's own claim for reparations due
to the blockade's damages done to the island

Some additional information on the reparations
march will follow this. You can access more of
what will be sent out on at this URL:

September 1, 2001
Nobody has the right to sabotage this conference or to
demand that there is no discussion of just reparations

DURBAN.- In an implicit observation on the conduct of the
United States in relation to the world summit on racism, the
Cuban president emphasized that "nobody has the right to
sabotage this conference," which seeks to alleviate terrible
suffering and huge injustices.

Fidel and Arafat had a bilateral meeting on Friday night.

"And even less," he continued, "does anybody have to right
to impose conditions or demand that historical
responsibility and just reparations should not even be
mentioned, or on the way in which we decide to qualify the
horrific genocide currently being committed against our
sister nation of Palestine.

This Saturday, speaking to representations from some 160
countries, Fidel Castro gave a vibrant speech in the plenary
session of a conference that responded with repeated
applause and a final ovation of close to one minute.

"Put an immediate end to the genocide of the Palestinian
people. Protect the elemental right to life of its citizens,
of its children. Respect its right to independence and
peace, and there will be no fear of UN documents," he

The Cuban leader pointed out that the war against Palestine
is managed by extreme-right leaders who, allied to a
hegemonic superpower, are currently acting in the name of
another people that throughout close to 2000 years was in
its turn the victim of the greatest discrimination,
injustice and persecution committed in history.

When Cuba talks of compensation, with the important
precedent of reparations received by Jewish descendents,
it is not aspiring to the impossible search for direct
descendents or the specific countries of origin of the
victims of deeds over the centuries, he clarified.


Fidel added that it is a true and irrefutable fact that tens
of millions of human beings were captured, sold as
merchandise or forced to work as slaves. Today the rich and
wasteful world possesses the technical and financial
resources to settle that debt with humanity, he affirmed.

Fidel Castro's dissertation covered the majority of the
objectives outlined in the anti-racist assembly agenda, from
reparations to the African continent for its enslavement,
the problems of indigenous communities and the current
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Finally, the Cuban president offered concrete solutions for
these Controversial dilemmas, inextricably linked, he
reiterated, to the historical economic exploitation of the
so-called Third World.

Racism and xenophobia constitute a social, cultural and
political phenomenon, not a natural human instinct. "They
are the direct offspring of wars, military conquests,
enslavement and the exploitation of the weakest by the
strongest throughout the length of history," he emphasized.

"From my point of view," he added, "we are facing a great
economic, social and political crisis of a global nature.
Let us become aware of these realities and alternatives will
arise," he affirmed to an auditorium of 10,000 conference
delegates and a plenary session of 12 heads of state.

He noted that history has shown that great solutions only
emerge from great crises. The right of peoples to life and
justice will inevitably impose itself in the most varied
forms, he highlighted.

"I believe in the mobilization and in the struggle of the
peoples! I believe in just ideas! I believe in the truth!
I believe in humanity!" proclaimed the leader of the
Cuban Revolution (PL).

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