Lust and gluttony, the only two deadly sins worth the trouble...
Isabel Allende
Key address by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of
the Republic of Cuba at the World Conference against
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
related intolerance Durban, South Africa.

September 1, 2001


Delegates and guests:

Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are not
naturally instinctive reactions of the human beings
but rather a social, cultural and political
phenomenon born directly of wars, military
conquests, slavery and the individual or collective
exploitation of the weakest by the most powerful all
along the history of human societies.

No one has the right to boycott this Conference
which tries to bring some sort of relief to the
overwhelming majority of mankind afflicted by
unbearable suffering and enormous injustice. Neither
has anyone the right to set preconditions to this
conference or urge it to avoid the discussion of
historical responsibility, fair compensation or the
way we decide to rate the dreadful genocide
perpetrated, at this very moment, against our
Palestinian brothers by extreme right leaders who,
in alliance with the hegemonic superpower, pretend
to be acting on behalf of another people which
throughout almost two thousand years was the victim
of the most fierce persecution, discrimination and
injustice that history has known.

Cuba speaks of reparations, and supports this idea
as an unavoidable moral duty to the victims of
racism, based on a major precedent, that is, the
indemnification being paid to the descendants of the
Hebrew people which in the very heart of Europe
suffered the brutal and loathsome racist holocaust.
However, it is not with the intent to undertake an
impossible search for the direct descendants or the
specific countries of the victims of actions
occurred throughout centuries. The irrefutable truth
is that tens of millions of Africans were captured,
sold like a commodity and sent beyond the Atlantic
to work in slavery while 70 million indigenous
people in that hemisphere perished as a result of
the European conquest and colonization.

The inhuman exploitation imposed on the peoples of
three continents, including Asia, marked forever the
destiny and lives of over 4.5 billion people living
in the Third World today whose poverty,
unemployment, illiteracy and health rates as well as
their infant mortality, life expectancy and other
calamities --too many, in fact, to enumerate here--
are certainly awesome and harrowing. They are the
current victims of that atrocity which lasted
centuries and the ones who clearly deserve
compensation for the horrendous crimes perpetrated
against their ancestors and peoples.

Actually, such a brutal exploitation did not end
when many countries became independent, not even
after the formal abolition of slavery. Right after
independence, the main ideologists of the American
Union that emerged when the 13 colonies got rid of
the British domination at the end of the 18th
century, advanced ideas and strategies
unquestionably expansionist in nature.

It was based on such ideas that the ancient white
settlers of European descent, in their march to the
West, forcibly occupied the lands in which Native-
Americans had lived for thousands of years thus
exterminating millions of them in the process. But,
they did not stop at the boundaries of the former
Spanish possessions; consequently Mexico, a Latin
American country that had attained its independence
in 1821, was stripped off millions of square
kilometers of territory and invaluable natural

Meanwhile, in the increasingly powerful and
expansionist nation born in North America, the
obnoxious and inhumane slavery system stayed in
place for almost a century after the famous
Declaration of Independence of 1776 was issued, the
same that proclaimed that all men were born free and

After the purely formal slave emancipation, African-
Americans were subjected during one hundred more
years to the harshest racial discrimination, and
many of its features and consequences still persist
after almost four more decades of heroic struggles
and acheivements, for which
Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and other
outstanding fighters gave their lives. Based on a
purely racist rationale, the longest and most severe
legal sentences are passed against African-Americans
who in the wealthy American society are bound to
live in dare poverty and with the lowest living

Likewise, what is left of the Native-American
peoples, which were the first to inhabit a large
portion of the current territory of the United
States of America, remain under even worse
conditions of discrimination and neglect.

Needless to mention the data on the social and
economic situation of Africa where entire countries
and even whole regions of Sub-Saharan Africa are in
risk of extinction the result of an extremely
complex combination of economic backwardness,
excruciating poverty and grave diseases, both old
and new, that have become a true scourge. And the
situation is no less dramatic in numerous Asian
countries. On top of all this, there are the huge
and unpayable debts, the disparate terms of trade,
the ruinous prices of basic commodities, the
demographic explosion, the neoliberal globalization
and the climate changes that produce long draughts
alternating with increasingly intensive rains and
floods. It can be mathematically proven that such a
predicament is unsustainable.

The developed countries and their consumer
societies, presently responsible for the accelerated
and almost unstoppable destruction of the
environment, have been the main beneficiaries of the
conquest and colonization, of slavery, of the
ruthless exploitation and the extermination of
hundreds of millions of people born in the countries
that today constitute the Third World. They have
also reaped the benefits of the economic order
imposed on humanity after two atrocious and
devastating wars for a new division of the world and
its markets, of the privileges granted to the United
States and its allies in Bretton-Woods, and of the
IMF and the international financial institutions
exclusively created by them and for them.

That rich and squandering world is in possession of
the technical and financial resources necessary to
pay what is due to mankind. The hegemonic superpower
should also pay back its special debt to African-
Americans, to Native-Americans living in
reservations, and to the tens of millions of Latin
American and Caribbean immigrants as well as others
from poor nations, be they mulatto, yellow or black,
but victims all of vicious discrimination and scorn.

It is high time to put an end to the dramatic
situation of the indigenous communities in our
hemisphere. Their own awakening and struggles, and
the universal admission of the monstrosity of the
crime committed against them make it imperative.

There are enough funds to save the world from the

May the arms race and the weapon commerce that only
bring devastation and death truly end.

Let it be used for development a good part of the
one trillion US dollars annually spent on the
commercial advertising that creates false illusions
and inaccessible consumer habits while releasing the
venom that destroys the national cultures and

May the modest 0.7 percentage point of the Gross
National Product promised as official development
assistance be finally delivered.

May the tax suggested by Nobel Prize Laureate James
Tobin be imposed in a reasonable and effective way
on the current speculative operations accounting for
trillions of US dollars every 24 hours, then the
United Nations, which cannot go on depending on
meager, inadequate, and belated donations and
charities, will have one trillion US dollars
annually to save and develop the world. Given the
seriousness and urgency of the existing problems,
which have become a real hazard for the very
survival of our specie on the planet, that is what
would actually be needed before it is too late.

Put and end to the ongoing genocide against the
Palestinian people that is taking place while the
world stares in amazement. May the basic right to
life of that people, children and youth, be
protected. May their right to peace and independence
be respected; then, there will be nothing to fear
from UN documents.

I am aware that the need for some relief from the
awful situation their countries are facing has led
many friends from Africa and other regions to
suggest the need for such prudence as would allow
something to come out of this conference. I
sympathize with them but I cannot renounce my
convictions, as I feel that the more candid we are
in telling the truth the more possibilities there
will be to be heeded and respected. There have been
enough centuries of deception.

I have only three other short questions based on
realities that cannot be ignored.

The capitalist, developed and wealthy countries
today participate of the imperialist system born of
capitalism itself and the economic order imposed to
the world based on the philosophy of selfishness and
the brutal competition between men, nations and
groups of nations which in completely indifferent to
any feelings of solidarity and honest international
cooperation. They live under the misleading,
irresponsible and hallucinating atmosphere of
consumer societies. Thus, regardless the sincerity
of their blind faith in such a system and the
convictions of their most serious statesmen, I
wonder: Will they be able to understand the grave
problems of today's world which in its
incoherent and uneven development is ruled by blind
laws, by the huge power and the interests of the
ever growing and increasingly uncontrollable and
independent transnational corporations?

Will they come to understand the impending universal
chaos and rebellion? And, even if they wanted to,
could they put an end to racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and other related issues,
which are precisely the rest of them all?

From my viewpoint we are on the verge of a huge
economic, social and political global crisis.
Let's try to build an awareness about these
realities and the alternatives will come up. History
has shown that it is only from deep crisis that
great solutions have emerged. The people's
right to life and justice will definitely impose
itself under a thousand different shapes.

I believe in the mobilization and the struggle of
the peoples! I believe in the idea of justice! I
believe in truth! I believe in man!

Thank you.