ASUNCION – The Americas face the challenge of ending poverty among blacks and Indians, who account for 40 percent of the region’s population, Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro said Wednesday.
In his address to the opening session of a conference in the Paraguayan capital on social inclusion, Almagro said that 150 million blacks account for 30 percent of the Americas’ population, and 90 percent of them live in poverty or extreme poverty.
About 50 million indigenous people, or 10 percent of the region’s population, “live in a similar situation of exclusion and discrimination,” the OAS official said, citing UNICEF figures.
“Despite improvements achieved over the past decade, the benefits have not been distributed with equality, and the rights of indigenous peoples have not been protected,” Almagro said.
National governments and international organizations “must improve the living conditions among these vulnerable populations, helping make progress toward their full inclusion in civic and political rights,” the OAS secretary-general said.
Officials from 21 countries in the Americas are attending the two-day 3rd Development Ministers and High-Level Authorities meeting, or REMDES, in Asuncion to discuss poverty and inequality.
Representatives from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, are attending the conference, which is sponsored by the OAS.
“Persistent high levels of inequality represent some of the main challenges to development, democratic governance and the security of countries in the region,” Almagro said.
Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga, Vice President Juan Afara and Social Affairs Secretary Hector Cardenas also addressed the conference’s inaugural session.