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Leaders of Western Hemisphere Jewish communities to meet with executives of IDB in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 20 - 21

Presidents, directors, and other leaders of Jewish organizations throughout the Western Hemisphere and senior executives of the Inter-American Development Bank, led by IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias, will meet in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 20-21 to exchange experiences and identify ways to fight against poverty, which affects vast sectors of the population in Latin America, including Jewish communities.

"There is a perverse, contagious mechanism that reproduces and amplifies poverty, a kind of intergenerational poverty," according to Iglesias. "Poverty and inequity are the two challenges that have brought us together."

Iglesias said that the IDB has established a dialogue and is supporting efforts by the most active sectors of Latin American civil society to address these problems, and in this context Jewish communities that have been active in the social area have been invited to this meeting, organized by the IDB and the World Jewish Congress.

The dialogue, titled "The Struggle against Poverty: Projects and Alternatives", is being coordinated by Bernardo Kliksberg, coordinator of the IDB's Inter-American Institute for Social Development, and it will be focused on serious problems of Latin America, such as unemployment, high school dropout and repetition rates, lack of access to health services, crime, the weakening of the family structure because of poverty, and other issues.

The emphasis will be on learning from successful projects and designing new ones.

IDB Secretary Carlos Ferdinand; the Bank's chief of external relations, Muni Figueres; Jacques Rogozinski, general manager of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, and other IDB senior officials will relate their experiences concerning the fight against poverty, and Jewish leaders will present some projects carried out by Jewish communities that have had a big impact.

Among those expected to participate in the dialogue are Uruguayan President Jorge Battle; Rabbi Israel Singer, president of the World Jewish Congress; Montevideo Mayor Mariano Arana; former Uruguayan President Luis Alberto Lacalle; L. Ronald Scheman, director general of the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development of the Organization of the American States; the director for Latin America of Israel's foreign ministry, Pinhas Avivi; the director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, Manuel Tenembaun; and other international personalities.

A high-level delegation from the United States will include Ronald Lauder, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the same organization; Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith; and other senior leaders.

Report on Poverty and Community Initiatives

During the meeting, a book --consisting of selections compiled by Kliksberg-- will be presented titled La Lucha contra la Pobreza en América Latina: Deterioro Socioeconómico y Experiencias de las Comunidades Judías (The Fight Against Poverty in Latin America: Social and Economic Deterioration and the Experience of Jewish Communities). The volume is published by the Fondo de Cultura Económica, the IDB, and the Latin American Jewish Congress.

The book provides statistics and analyzes the general situation of poverty in Latin America, which affects 60 percent of the children in a region that is among the world's most inequitable. The book also examines some of the more apparent consequences of economic crises: the rise of the so-called "new poor," a result of the economic and social deterioration of middle classes and its impact on educational systems.

The book highlights the dynamic role of civil society in fighting against the "new poverty" and describes the important role of Jewish community organizations in supporting efforts for all of society, such as the formation of networks for social protection and solidarity, and assistance during emergencies and catastrophes.

Among the successful experiences of the fight by the middle sectors against poverty are those in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela -- all of which will be discussed during the Montevideo dialogue.

President Iglesias will preside over the conference. "For the IDB, it is stimulating to count on allies in the fight against poverty that have the quality of the Jewish communities in Latin America, who are masters in the field of solidarity and volunteer service," he said.

The conference is expected to result in new teachings, new initiatives and projects to face problems that have the highest priority for the peoples of the region.

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