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Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover visits Cuba to support people of African descent

© UNICEF Cuba/2011/Garcia
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover expressed his support for Afro-descendant peoples of the Americas in Havana, Cuba.

By Arsenio Garcia

HAVANA, Cuba, 20 June 2011 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and internationally acclaimed actor Danny Glover visited Havana last week to attend the opening session of the regional workshop entitled ‘Cuba and the Afro-Descendant Peoples of the Americas’.

The UNICEF-supported event was organized by the Juan Marinello Cuban Institute for Cultural Research in connection with the International Year for People of African Descent.

A memorable gathering

Upon arrival to Havana, Mr. Glover visited the National Folklore Ensemble, where he witnessed a music and dance workshop established with boys, girls and adolescents to help preserve their African inheritance.

“The work is extraordinary, wonderful. It’s what many cultural institutions in the world should do,” Mr. Glover said. “As a Goodwill Ambassador, I must say that I feel proud that UNICEF supports this type of initiative. We cannot talk about the transformations that are taking place in Latin America without regard for the African influence.”

During his trip, Mr. Glover and the other members of the delegation were met at the headquarters of ‘La Colmenita’ by company director Carlos Alberto “Tin” Cremata, and given an impromptu performance by members of the troupe.

© UNICEF Cuba/2011/Garcia
During his visit to Havana, Cuba, Danny Glover visited the headquarters of ‘La Colmenita’, where a dance troupe performed for the visiting delegation.

UNICEF Permanent Representative in Cuba José Juan Ortiz Brú welcomed the workshop participants and thanked them for their advocacy efforts in support of the rights of Afro-descendants and excluded populations.

“It is a real privilege that Danny Glover and James Early are here with us, once again, in the process of reasserting the values of African culture in Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Mr. Ortiz Brú.

Supporting Afro-descendant populations

The workshop – attended by a large number of intellectuals, academics and leaders of African descent from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean – was sponsored by the Juan Marinello Cuban Institute for Cultural Research and the Ministry of Culture of Cuba.

At it, a UN panel – composed of representatives from UNICEF, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UN Population Fund, UN Women, and led by the Office of the Resident Coordinator – highlighted the major commitment by each of the organizations in supporting Afro-descendant populations, which are highly excluded in many countries of the world and in the Americas in particular.

© UNICEF Cuba/2011/Garcia
Danny Glover met with children and adolescents during his trip to the 'Cuba and the Afro-Descendant Peoples of the Americas’ workshop in Havana, Cuba.

“We in the United Nations are convinced that diversity is wealth; it is culture and development,” said Bárbara Pesce-Monteiro, UN Resident Coordinator in Cuba. “We are also aware that a single year is not enough to resolve injustices and strengthen the commitment to this issue of Afro-descendants – an idea whose origin goes back to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Combating discrimination

Concluding the event, Ana Carolina Querino, Regional Coordinator of the Gender, Race and Poverty Programme of UN Women, spoke about the lack of value placed on African culture and heritage across the continent.

“In the education of our countries, children and adolescents are not fairly trained in the possibility of having a positive image of their identity as Afro-descendants,” she said.

In the Caribbean, approximately 70 per cent of the population is of African descent. Despite accounting for a sizable percentage of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean, populations of African descent are the ones hardest hit by discrimination and the violation of their rights.



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