The Miami Herald
October 19, 1998
Latin summit sounds an alarm, agrees to meet in '99 in Havana

             Herald Staff Writer

             OPORTO, Portugal -- A summit of 21 Ibero-American leaders ended here
             Sunday with a call on rich countries to ``adopt urgent measures'' to prevent a
             world financial crisis, and with an agreement to meet next year in Havana.

             Cuban President Fidel Castro, who as host of the next annual meeting was given
             the podium to make the summit's final statement, announced that the presidents of
             19 Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal had agreed with his proposal to
             focus next year's summit on ``Ibero-America and the serious risks of a global
             economic crisis.''

             Castro's speech at the summit's final ceremony, which according to the official
             program was to last seven minutes, stretched out for one hour 20 minutes. The
             two other speakers, Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and Venezuelan
             President Rafael Caldera, had spoken for five minutes each.

             Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori left the podium midway through Castro's
             speech, telling Portugal's Radio Renascence minutes later that ``I hope [Castro]
             will not make a wrong interpretation of my leaving, but I'm under time pressures.''

             A two-page statement on the international financial situation issued at the end of
             the summit called on the United States, Japan and the European Union to
             ``immediately adopt measures to continue the process of trade opening, [and]
             avoid a slowdown of their economies . . . among other means by reducing their
             interest rates.''

             Focus on loan funds

             It further called on rich countries to increase their contributions to a contingency
             fund within the International Monetary Fund, to provide emergency loans to
             countries that suffer from sudden waves of capital flight because of financial
             domino effects, even if they pursued sound economic policies.

             Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, whose country has faced
             massive fund withdrawals following the crises in Russia and Southeast Asia, had
             proposed earlier in the day to create a new 0.5 percent international tax on
             short-term capital flows.

             ``Part of the resources obtained from this tax could be used for creation of an
             IMF-linked currency stabilization fund'' for countries that suffer massive capital
             flight, as well as for new World Bank programs to help alleviate poverty, Cardoso
             said. His proposal was privately backed by several presidents, but wasn't included
             in the final statement.

             Aside from the summit's extensive wish list, its most important accomplishment
             may have been a successful continuation of the talks between Peruvian President
             Fujimori and Ecuadorean President Jamil Mahuad to end a decades-old border

             ``Peru and Ecuador have given the next-to-last step in this [peace-making]
             process,'' Fujimori said at a news conference. He was referring to a meeting in
             which the two presidents informed members of a four-country arbitration group --
             made up of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the United States -- that they will abide by
             the group's ruling.

             Alfredo Chiaradia, Argentina's special representative at the arbitration group, told
             The Herald that the group will deliver its ruling ``in two weeks at the most.''

             Castro in spotlight

             Both at the summit's closing ceremony and at a final news conference, Castro
             dominated the scene -- and the microphone. Venezuelan President Rafael
             Caldera, who shared with Castro and Sampaio the job of holding a news
             conference on behalf of all the presidents, left the press meeting after Castro took
             nearly an hour to respond to three questions addressed to him.

             ``I think the duration of this press conference has exceeded its scheduled time,''
             Caldera told Castro as he gave him a handshake and left the podium.

             The Cuban president, who earlier this weekend held a friendly meeting with
             Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar, announced he would make an unscheduled
             trip to Spain starting today. He was invited by the leader of the Spanish region of
             Extremadura, he said.

             Both in his speech at the closing of the summit and at the news conference, Castro
             repeatedly quoted President Clinton's recent statements about the seriousness of
             the world financial crisis. He went out of his way to avoid the gringo-bashing
             rhetoric he had used during a closed-door meeting Saturday night with 5,000
             supporters -- led by Nobel laureate Jose Saramago.

             ``His speech before the presidents was very moderate,'' a Latin American
             diplomat said. ``He doesn't want to antagonize anybody, because his first priority
             is making sure that everybody goes to the Havana summit next year. Just getting all
             the presidents to pose for a family picture in Cuba, he will score a propaganda


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