International Conference on Financing for Development
Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
18-22 March 2002
21 March 2002


Venezuela proposed to form an international humanitarian fund into which developing countries could pay 10 per cent of their external debt and 10 per cent of their military expenditure to save the lives of children dying of disease and hunger around the world, Hugo Chávez Frías, President of Venezuela, said at a press conference this afternoon.

Responding to correspondents' questions, he stressed the need to raise international awareness of the inequality in the world, saying that such a fund was important for the common global fate. Nobody could doubt that, for many countries, servicing external debt meant that their people would starve to death. Debt cancellation would be a highly humane gesture, he added.

As President of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, which represented four fifths of the world's peoples, he said he had criticized some of the elements that were the principal focus of the International Conference on Financing for Development, including debt and official development assistance (ODA). Although countries had committed themselves more than 30 years ago to contribute 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to ODA, most of them contributed barely 0.2 per cent.

Referring to the Conference outcome document, President Chávez said a consensus was relative and did not mean turning a blind eye to those who were starving. "We must ensure that the consensus turns into achievements and is not a dead letter", he added.

In response to a question, he said Cuban President Fidel Castro's statement to the summit was a call for the world to think. He had cited figures that had been corroborated and that showed that three people in the world had greater wealth than the gross domestic product (GDP) of 40 developing countries. "I agree with Fidel's vision because he is awake to the world situation. The world must begin to change the terrible phase in which it finds itself", President Chávez said.

Asked why President Castro was leaving Monterrey today and whether his departure was a result of United States pressure, he said the Cuban leader had said what he had to say in his usual resounding manner and now he was leaving the delegation in the hands of Ricardo Alarcon, Speaker of the National Assembly.

He said he did not know why President Castro was leaving today. "I am also about to leave today because I have matters to deal with in Venezuela", he added. President Castro's departure would not diminish the importance of the summit.

President Chávez told another journalist that he had read that President George W. Bush of the United States was concerned about Venezuela. "I am thankful for that and I, too, am concerned about the United States -- the Towers, the terrorism and the energy. We have seven refineries on United States territory and 13 fuel stations providing fuel from Venezuela", he said, adding, "We are also concerned when we meet here in Monterrey to discuss the problems of the world -- Latin America, Africa and Asia."

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