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The BBC's Tom Gibb in Havana
"Fidel Castro was in vintage form for the opening"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Castro: capitalism causes new holocaust
Castro
Castro said capitalism caused Holocaust-like suffering
Cuban President Fidel Castro has blamed capitalism for causing deaths and suffering on a scale comparable to the Nazi Holocaust.

"The images we see of mothers and children in whole regions of Africa under the lash of drought and other catastrophes remind us of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany," he said at the opening of the first G-77 summit of developing countries, in Havana.



"We lack a Nuremberg to judge the economic order imposed upon us"

President Fidel Castro
He called for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be disbanded, saying it had spread poverty around the world.

Mr Castro said the IMF serves the interests of the United States and other rich nations rather than those of poor countries forced to implement its free-market austerity policies in exchange for aid.


Castro with Arafat
Castro greets Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
"We lack a Nuremberg to judge the economic order imposed upon us, where every three years more men, women and children die of hunger and preventable diseases than died in the Second World War", he said.

Cuba receives no assistance from international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.

North-South division

Other leaders present at the meeting called for increased aid, debt relief and a greater say in international decision-making.

Economic globalisation and the widening inequalities between the rich North and the poorer South also came under attack in the summit, attended by 133 countries of the G-77 group


Obasanjo
Nigerian President Obasanjo is the G77 chairman
Among the 40 or so heads of states attending are South African President Thabo Mbeki, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Some of them echoed Mr Castro's words.

"Never has the world witnessed such massive disparities in international social and economic activities," said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said it was imperative that aid policies be reformed, adding that the widening poverty gap could "constitute a major threat to international peace and security".


President Castro of Cuba
The Cuban leader called for the abolition of the IMF
Mr Obasanjo called for rich countries to demonstrate their commitment to a new partnership with poor countries.

He also said poor countries needed more resources to promote democracy and stability.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also called for debt forgiveness and more investment in poor countries.

He said the countries of the South should work together to increase trade and co-operation among themselves.

Mr Annan said the developing world could use the summit to present a united front at the United Nations' Millennium Summit in September.

Malaysia called for a full revamp of the United Nations Security Council, including stopping the veto power of the permanent members.

India supported this view, saying greater democratisation of the UN structure was needed with developing countries playing a bigger role.

Issues

The summit will also focus on access for developing countries to first world markets and technology.

Preferential trade concessions for poorer nations and freer movement of labour to match capital flows are other issues to be on the agenda.

The final declaration is expected to oppose linking trade with labour standards, or imposing strong environmental standards.

The summit will also push for initiatives for co-operation among developing countries, and in this, Cuba's health and education services are seen as a model.

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See also:

10 Apr 00 | Americas
Third World leaders gather in Cuba
09 Nov 99 | Americas
UN votes to end Cuba embargo
01 Jan 00 | Americas
Cuba ignores the party
01 Jan 99 | Americas
Castro: The great survivor
17 Nov 99 | Americas
Castro dismisses democracy calls
16 Nov 99 | Americas
Democracy plea at Cuba summit
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