- Pressemitteilung BoxID 156260
Latin American presidents focus on education and regional integration
- Five Latin American presidents call for deeper regional integration
- Education is the key to addressing social inequality and poverty, the leaders agreed
- More information about the meeting is available here: http://www.weforum.org/latinamerica2010
Latin America should focus on deepening regional integration and improving the quality of education to address inequality, said presidents from five countries in the region - Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay - in a plenary session on the final day of the World Economic Forum on Latin America. "When our pineapples cross the border with Argentina to get to Chile, we have problems," Paraguayan President Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez acknowledged. "We have common roots. We all agree on strengthening our democratic institutions because what is at stake is our future. Integration is possible."
"We all want integration," said Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama. "However, when we get to the nitty-gritty, each country starts to fight for its own industries and agriculture. What it would take is a much broader attitude, which I don't see. We have to think beyond all paradigms so that integration becomes a reality." Added Martinelli: "I urge all presidents to go beyond pretty words and declarations and put their money where their mouths are."
Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom Caballeros is optimistic. "I see a Latin America that can make the best of the harmony we now have than we have done in the past." The global economic crisis has spurred closer collaboration. "The multiplicity of crises is heralding a change. This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole continent to profit."
The presidents agreed that education is the key to addressing the challenge of inequality in Latin American societies. "The great challenge for Latin America is the education revolution," said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez. By improving education, a country can enhance its investment climate. "Investment is not an end in itself, but it is a means to overcome poverty and generate equity," Uribe remarked.
Leonel Fernández, President of the Dominican Republic, observed that 70% of Latin Americans live in urban areas, creating pockets of severe poverty alongside areas of new wealth and prosperity, as the middle class has expanded. "The only sustainable way to overcome the situation is education," he said, noting that the continent's universities are not typically ranked among the world's top educational institutions. "Where are the innovation centres? The biggest challenge today is how to bring about quality education throughout the region."
More information about the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2010 at www.weforum.org/en/events/latinamerica2010
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