Media Center

Press Release


  October 10, 2003

MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela – Thirty-four member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) pledged today to work together to help eradicate poverty and reach development and social justice in the hemisphere.

They reiterated their “commitment to urgently combat the serious problems of poverty, social exclusion and inequity that affect, in varying degrees, the countries of the hemisphere.” In the Declaration of Margarita, adopted in Venezuela at the conclusion of the High-Level Meeting on Poverty, Equity and Social Inclusion, the delegates affirmed their commitment to “create favorable conditions for socio-economic development with equity to promote more just societies.”

During the closing ceremony, the Venezuelan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arévalo Méndez Romero, emphasized the importance of the exchange of ideas in Margarita, to confront the economic stagnation of recent years and reduce the gap between rich and poor.

“Without any doubt, we’ve given renewed impulse to the social issues on the inter-American agenda, and we have agreed on concrete and creative actions which we will be responsible for carrying out, in an environment of cooperation and continental solidarity and above all, with the conviction that poverty and social exclusion are threats that generate an endless list of problems and calamities that are linked together,” he said.

In the Margarita Declaration, the countries urged that their recommendations and conclusions be taken under consideration by the OAS political bodies.

The document, approved after two days of discussion, refers to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, recalling “that the fight against poverty, and especially the elimination of extreme poverty, is essential to the promotion and consolidation of democracy.” It also highlights the need to deepen the commitments undertaken in the Democratic Charter in relation to “the advancement and observance of economic, social and cultural rights.”

Recognizing that people who live in poverty are vulnerable and disadvantaged, the countries committed to strengthen policies designed to facilitate social inclusion and lead to integrated societies. They also ratified the need to “promote greater cooperation and coordination between or among national sectors which have a role in determining economic and social policies, which must be mutually complementary.”

The meeting was held under the auspices of the OAS Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI), headed by Venezuela’s Ambassador to the OAS, Jorge Valero. Participants in the meeting included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavéz, OAS Secretary General César Gaviria and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Enrique Iglesias, as well as ministers of social development and other high level-authorities and diplomats from the region.

Reference: E-197/03