April 13, 2000
Third World leaders seek ways to convince rich nations to share

                   HAVANA (AP) -- Having denounced an economic order they say impoverishes
                   millions and threatens the stability of developing nations, Third World leaders met
                   behind closed doors Thursday to find ways to convince the globe's economic
                   powers to share the wealth.

                   Beyond trying to shame industrialized nations into action with sobering statistics
                   on the widening gap between rich and poor, hunger and infant mortality rates,
                   leaders at the Group of 77 summit also sought common ground among

                   Since its founding in 1964, the Group of 77 has grown to a diverse group of
                   133, representing 80 percent of the world's population.

                   Leaders at the summit, which ends Friday, were working on an "action plan" and
                   were committed to "real results," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.

                   Forty foreign ministers in Havana urged the United Nations to take a more active
                   role in economic development and technology transfers to poorer nations. The
                   ministers also demanded "democratization" and "transparency" for the U.N.
                   Security Council, including permanent council seats for developing nations.

                   "The only way to improve our lot as developing countries is to ask for a fair
                   share in the U.N.'s decision-making process," the ministers, mostly from Africa,
                   Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, wrote in a document.

                   The Security Council, the only U.N. body with power to enforce its decisions
                   militarily or economically, has five permanent members -- the United States,
                   Britain, France, Russia and China -- and 10 non-permanent members whose
                   terms rotate every two years.

                   The United States and France favor adding five new permanent seats -- Japan,
                   Germany, and one member from Asia, Africa and Latin America, to be selected
                   by their regional groups. Many nations oppose any expansion on the grounds that
                   permanent members' veto power would freeze decision-making.

                   Ministers also called for decision-making roles for developing nations in key
                   lending institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,
                   which they said impose "unachievable" austerity conditions in exchange for aid.

                   Still, the anti-poverty strategies presented at the summit sometimes conflicted --
                   reflecting the wide-ranging ideologies and states of development of member

                   They ranged from Brunei -- an Islamic sultanate of 360,000 whose per capita
                   gross domestic product is among Asia's highest, at $14,800 in 1997 -- to
                   Malawi, an impoverished southeast African nation of 11 million where 60 percent
                   of the people live in poverty and where 265,000 have died from AIDS-related

                   Thursday's early debates were closed to the legions of reporters in Havana.

                   On Wednesday, Cuba's Fidel Castro compared globalization's impact on the
                   Third World to the Holocaust, called for the abolishment of the International
                   Monetary Fund and demanded a war crimes-type tribunal to judge capitalist
                   states for hunger and disease in the world.

                   The street violence and collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle last
                   year should serve as a wake-up call for developed countries, Castro declared.
                   The violence showed that the global market's "aggressive foundation ... is
                   creating a strong and merited global rejection," he said.

                   Other, more conciliatory speakers defended some free trade, called for debt
                   relief, more humanitarian aid and the sharing of Internet and other
                   globe-spanning technologies.

                   Inevitably, the frenzy over Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old boy at the center of an
                   international custody dispute, wound its way into the summit. With a standing
                   ovation, delegates unanimously approved a motion by Haitian President Rene
                   Preval to demand Elian's prompt return to Cuba, the Cuban Communist Party
                   newspaper Granma reported.

                   Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.