Cuba, others walk out on 'racism' meeting By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
October 6, 2002

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BRIDGETOWN - Delegations from Cuba and other Caribbean countries, as well as delegates from some African and Latin American nations, have walked out from the international anti-racism conference ahead of its conclusion today in Barbados.

They pulled out on Friday night after efforts failed to secure a reversal of a motion at the first working session Wednesday to exclude Whites, non-Africans and their descendants from the six-day "African and African Descendants World Conference Against Racism".

Promoted as a direct follow-up to last year's United Nations-sponsored World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" in Durban, South Africa, the local organisers had failed to prevent passage of the exclusion motion, initiated by the delegation from Britain and widely supported by African Americans.

The Barbados Government strongly condemned the motion as being "offensive" in a statement by Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Mia Mottley, who said that it "does not support segregation in any form or racism in any guise".

Cuba's delegation, comprising Blacks and Whites, said in a statement before formally withdrawing from the conference Friday night at the Sherbourne Conference Centre:

"After being unable to find a decision about the problem posed by the exclusion of people on the basis of their race, (Cuba) has decided to withdraw from the conference.

"Cuba will never support any action aimed at segregating a group of people. Furthermore, Cuba believes that such a decision is intolerant and contrary to the purposes of this conference".

Nevertheless, said Cuba, it "will continue working, as it has done in the past, in every possibly way against all forms of racism and racial discrimination, and for the progress and well being of Africans and their descendants throughout the world".

Along with Cuba, delegations and delegates from France's overseas territories, including Guadeloupe and Martinique, Haiti, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Colombia also withdrew participation in protest against the decision Friday reaffirming the offending exclusion motion.

Chairman of the local Commission for Pan African Affairs, one of the sponsoring organisations of the conference, told the Sunday Chronicle that he was in a position to only confirm withdrawal of "delegations" from Cuba and the French Caribbean,

He, however, added that while delegates from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Colombia had also withdrawn, there were other delegates from both of those African states at the conference up to yesterday.

Chairperson of the Central Organising Committee, Dr Jewel Crawford, a medical doctor from Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, has told the media, in response to questions on the withdrawal of delegations and delegates opposed to the exclusion motion, that:

"The decision (against reversal) was made, after a long discussion, that the motion would stand and that the democratic process would be respected. The motion for exclusion was from the majority".

One prominent West Indian who had earlier withdrawn his own participation in protest against the exclusion motion was the Barbados-born Principal of the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus), Hilary Beckles.

He said the motion was contrary to the spirit of the decisions arrived at during last year's international anti-racism conference in South Africa, and was a "sad day" for Barbados and all those opposed to any form of exclusion based on race.