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Press Release


  November 5, 2003

The fact that nearly 100 million of citizens in the Americas live in extreme poverty is a “perverse and aberrant situation” that underscores the failure of a model that fosters injustice, inequality and discrimination, according to the Chairman of the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI) and Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Jorge Valero.

Delivering a report today to the OAS Permanent Council on the recent High-Level Meeting on Poverty, Equity and Social Inclusion, held October 8 to 10 on Margarita Island, Venezuela, Ambassador Valero said redressing poverty, inequity and social exclusion is not only a responsibility of democracy, but also its primary ethical imperative.

“Dehumanizing conditions undermine the bases of democracy,” Valero told the Permanent Council meeting, chaired by Ambassador Salvador Rodezno of Honduras. “Democracy must go beyond holding elections; it should also create mechanisms to enable ongoing participation by all social and political actors.”

Recalling that at the Margarita meeting the Chilean government had offered to host a meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Social Development during the first half of 2004, Valero submitted a seven-point proposal for a follow-up strategy on the commitments articulated in the Declaration of Margarita, which was adopted unanimously at the High-Level Meeting on Poverty, Equity and Social Inclusion.

He emphasized the need to strengthen horizontal cooperation and exchange on effective programs to combat poverty, and suggested the need for a Permanent Council/CIDI instrument and mechanisms to promote economic, social and cultural rights. Valero also stressed the need to start preparations for the meeting of social development ministers, to be held in 2005, and called for strengthening the Inter-American Committee to Combat Poverty and Discrimination, in keeping with the decisions from the recent high-level meeting.

In his remarks, Ronald Scheman, Director General of the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD), said fighting poverty calls for a comprehensive strategy involving a variety of government institutions along with private sector and civil society interests as well as international and regional organizations. He also outlined several development programs the Agency is undertaking with private sector financing.

At today’s Permanent Council meeting, several member state delegations reiterated the need to reactivate the Inter-American Program to Combat Poverty and Discrimination in order to move forward in combating poverty in the Americas. They also congratulated the Venezuelan government, and Ambassador Valero, for taking the lead in including the social agenda as a priority issue for the OAS. The delegates also thanked the Venezuelan government and people for their hospitality during the meeting on Margarita Island.

Reference: E-214/03