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
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
133, representing 80 percent of the world's population.
Leaders at the summit, which ends Friday, were working on an "action plan"
were committed to "real results," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.
Forty foreign ministers in Havana urged the United Nations to take a more
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
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
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
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
relief, more humanitarian aid and the sharing of Internet and other
Inevitably, the frenzy over Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old boy at the center
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.