Annan tells Latin American countries to direct more spending towards poor

In a speech to the 13th Ibero-American Summit, which began today in Santa Cruz, Mr. Annan said Latin American nations must strive to ensure that economic development and the promotion of democracy and social justice go hand in hand.”A development strategy worth the name cannot ignore the glaring inequalities between different social groups – and that is even more true when socio-economic differences coincide with ethnic divisions,” he said.”Special attention should be paid to the needs of all those – whether minorities or majorities, of African descent or native Indian origin – who share the bitter experience of marginalization. And inequities of land ownership must be addressed through imaginative agrarian reforms.”While the Secretary-General complimented the Latin American countries participating in the summit for their efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, he said their attempts to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger have been “thwarted…by a vicious cycle of disappointingly low economic growth and persistent inequality.”He said it was worrying that recent surveys in the region pointed to a fall in support for democracy, and that many poorer citizens felt their elected leaders were indifferent to their plight.Mr. Annan gave the speech during the final leg of a four-nation tour to the Andean region of South America. He has already visited Chile, Ecuador and Peru. read more