|© UNICEF Cuba/2007/Cañibaro|
|A discussion entitled 'Clash of civilizations or dialogue among them?' included Afro-descendent and indigenous leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean.|
By Arsenio Garcia
HAVANA, Cuba, 25 June 2007 – Almost 800 intellectuals, artists and spokespeople from 64 countries recently attended the Fifth International Congress on Culture and Development in Havana. The conference was organized by the Cuban Ministry of Culture with support from international organizations such as UNICEF and UNESCO.
Focusing on the theme 'Defense of Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World', the event – held 11-14 June – served as a forum for open debate and free exchange of ideas about multiculturalism and diversity.
Dialogue between civilizations
A round-table discussion entitled, ‘Clash of civilizations or dialogue among them?’ was organized and chaired by UNICEF Representative in Cuba José Juan Ortiz. Participants included groups of indigenous and Afro-descendent leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as several others.
Mr. Ortiz highlighted the importance of discussing the situation of indigenous and Afro-descendant children and women, who are the most excluded group in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
“Inter-cultural dialogue allows people to diminish their differences. It brings harmony and development,” said Mr. Ortiz.
|© UNICEF Cuba/2007/Cañibaro|
|A member of the Consulting Groups of Afro-descendent Leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean, Epsy Campbell (right), visits Casa del Niño y de la Niña.|
Afro-descendent leader Epsy Campbell and indigenous leader Blanca Chancoso both emphasized the importance of education in bringing cultures together.
Ms. Campbell said education must be offered to ensure that children learn the principles of equity and diversity. She highlighted the importance of bilingual education to preserve identity and create dialogue among peoples.
Ms. Campbell and Ms. Chancoso also visited the Municipal Centre of Havana for the prevention of adolescent HIV/AIDS, accompanied by the Executive Director of the ALAS Foundation, Lautaro García Batallán. They later visited Casa del Niño y de la Niña, a school in central Havana. In keeping with the theme of open dialogue, youths at the school were able to exchange ideas with the UNICEF invitees and staff.
Two concerts for cultural diversity
On last day of the conference, the National Museum of Fine Arts staged two UNICEF-sponsored concerts demonstrating the multicultural theme through music.
The first concert was performed by renowned pianist and Goodwill Ambassador Ernán López-Nussa, along with some of his relatives. The second concert was performed by the Anacaona Orchestra, an all-female Cuban musical group closely affiliated with UNICEF’s work here. Both concerts showed how diverse cultures could play together in order to sound one unified note.
“Music, as a universal language, guarantees plain understanding among civilizations,” said Mr. Ortiz. “These two concerts are a concrete example of it.”
Fifth International Congress of Culture and Development
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