Policy-makers in Cancun yesterday expressed fears that Latin
Americas huge development challenges are being forgotten
in the euphoria surrounding the market rebound.
Ecuador Finance Minister Elsa Viteri told Emerging
Markets that policy-makers and development practitioners
must look beyond growth figures and headline indicators.
We share the concept of improving well-being, but this
concept is often misunderstood as economic standards, she
said in an interview in Cancun yesterday.
We see well-being as going far beyond this and
[instead] focus on improving concretely the lives of the poor
and vulnerable communities.
Her comments were echoed by Nicaraguan finance minister
Alberto Guevara, who told Emerging Markets yesterday:
People sometimes get carried away talking about numbers.
The truth is the figures dont reflect the human tragedy
that is poverty. He lamented: Behind [the figures]
are desperate human beings.
Referring to suggestions multilateral lenders should
increase conditions attached to loans, Guevara said:
Its very difficult to explain to a child that
hes not going to get a school dinner today because some
politicians couldnt come to an agreement.
Rampant crime and drug trafficking have marred President
Felipe Calderon of Mexicos anti-poverty drive over the
past year. And in Cancun yesterday, he called on the IDB to
become the financing partner in the region that can pull
us out of the stagnation and underdevelopment that keeps
millions and millions of people in poverty in the
The global financial crisis knocked the regions
poverty reduction efforts off course. The number of people
living on $2 a day or less in Latin America increased in 2009
by 1.1% or 9 million people, bringing the total to 189 million,
or 34.1% of the population, according to the United Nations
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Marcelo Giugale, the head of the World Banks Economic
Policy and Poverty office for Latin America, said that
regions sharply rising currencies was contributing to the
under-employment of lower-income workers in the export
Critics argue governments must redress the income
disparities between the rich and power, which shot up over the
past as a result of the financial crisis.
According to ECLAC, the poor in Latin America make up almost
fourth of the population that had leapt out of poverty between
2002 and 2008 in the economic bull run.
Nevertheless, Giugale said: Our econ-omies are a lot
healthier than they every have been and the crisis has not lead
to a spike in inflation that would have undermined the
purchasing power of the poor.
Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB, said that no task
is more important than the fight against poverty, that
affects nearly one third of people in Latin America and the
Moreno added: We have to drag these 200 million people
in (the region) who dont have a proper roof, job or food,
out of the jaws of poverty.