- financial crisis - Latin America - Portugal - Spain
Leaders from Spain, Portugal and Latin America sought a joint response to the financial crisis at a summit here Thursday, despite their divided ideological views of the world.
The president of host El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca, said he hoped the heads of state and government from 22 countries would prepare a "negotiation letter with the entire world" during the 18th Ibero-American Summit.
The leaders plan to present a joint statement at a meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) leaders on the global financial crisis in Washington on November 15.
They agreed Thursday on a joint document aimed at fighting poverty among young people, the main theme of the summit before the crisis took over.
The declaration called for guarantees of education and health services, decent work and food security, and cooperation between private and public sectors.
But the financial crisis dominated discussions.
While conservatives, like Mexican President Felipe Calderon, called for "large flows of external investment" to help the region ride the crisis, leftists including Bolivian President Evo Morales attacked the capitalist system.
"What they call financial problems are more like problems of capitalism. Some say we have to save capitalism, but capitalism will never solve humanity's problems," Morales said.
Moderate leftist Chilean President Michele Bachelet meanwhile called for a reform of world financial organizations, including the participation of emerging and developing countries.
"We want our voices to be heard," Bachelet said.
Several years of sustained economic growth, of an average of between five and six percent annually, has prepared the region better than in the past to confront economic woes, analysts say.
But fears of a financial squeeze were widespread.
Business leaders warned that the crisis could affect financing for key regional infrastructure projects, including roads across the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and tunnel projects in the Andes.
The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) this week warned that the region would suffer a drop in investments, remittances and demand for its raw material exports.
It also revised down its regional growth prediction from four percent to no more than three percent.
Notable absentees from the meeting include Cuban President Raul Castro and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, who pulled out citing fears for his personal safety in El Salvador.
Spain's King Juan Carlos famously told the Venezuelan leader to "shut up" as last year's Ibero-American summit drew to a close in Santiago, Chile.