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  • President Castro said that while some progress has been made in the fight against poverty throughout Latin American and the Caribbean over the last few years, much more needs to be done.
  • The Cuban leader said 164 million people or 28.2 per cent of the Latin American and Caribbean population lived in poverty, while 11.3 per cent or 66 million people were in abject or extreme poverty.
  • He said the gravest concern is that of child poverty, which now affects as many as 70.5 million boys and girls in the region.

Cuban President, Raul Castro, says the region must take bold and decisive steps in order to eradicate poverty.

He was addressing the inaugural session of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on January 28, being held at the PABEXPO building in Havana, Cuba.

President Castro said that while some progress has been made in the fight against poverty throughout Latin American and the Caribbean over the last few years, much more needs to be done.

Referencing statistics published by CELAC in 2012, the Cuban leader said 164 million people or 28.2 per cent of the Latin American and Caribbean population lived in poverty, while 11.3 per cent or 66 million people were in abject or extreme poverty.

He said the gravest concern is that of child poverty, which now affects as many as 70.5 million boys and girls in the region, 23.3 million of whom live under the poverty line.

“Ten per cent of the richest people in Latin America receive 32 per cent of the total income, while 40 per cent of the poorest receive only 15 per cent,” he informed.

President Castro said equitable wealth and income distribution is, therefore, essential for the sustained development of the region.

“The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean also call for and need universal and free access to quality education, full employment, the eradication of illiteracy, the establishment of true food security, health systems for all, the right to decent housing, fresh water and sanitation services,” Mr. Castro said.

He noted that all these are realistic goals, which can be achieved through a spirit of unity and cooperation.

The CELAC Summit is being held from January 28 to 29, under the theme: ‘The struggle against hunger, poverty and the inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

All 33 Heads of State and Government from the community’s member nations are present at this year’s Summit, making it one of the largest political events to be hosted by Cuba in years.

The leaders have been discussing issues pertinent to the region’s development, including matters of income inequality, trade and migration, science and technology, climate change, natural disasters, and transportation.