Press Release 01/77 C1
"HUNGER IS A PROBLEM OF POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT", SAYS THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF CHILE AT THE FAO CONFERENCE IN ROME
Rome, 2 November 2001- Food security is better measured today in millions of jobs created than in millions of tons of food produced, Mr. Patricio Aylwin, former President of the Republic of Chile said, in the opening ceremony of the Thirty-first session of the FAO Conference. He was delivering the McDougall Memorial Lecture, in honour of Frank McDougall, one of the founders of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
"The problem of hunger cannot be solved only by increasing agricultural production," the Latin American leader said. "The problem is more complex and refers to the lack of income and employment, and consequently high levels of poverty. Only poverty has been truly globalized in our age".
"McDougall was an advisor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Both thought that it would have been possible to eradicate hunger and poverty in a generation," former President Aylwin recalled. Texts that would eventually give origin to the Constitution of FAO, in 1945, clearly established the relationship between hunger and poverty. So, the former President wondered, how could it possibly happen, that 56 years later we have not succeeded in eradicating either hunger or poverty?" What would Frank McDougall think?"
The reasons for this "tragic failure" were to be found, in the lack of political commitment of richer countries to help the poor ones, of developing countries themselves to help their poor, and in wrong economic approaches, Mr. Aylwin said in the memorial ceremony this morning. "The over-praised neoliberalism and the omnipotent market is a mistaken vision and it is the root cause of some of the most serious problems that afflict us".
According to the Economic Commision for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC), Mr. Aylwin noted, Latin America grew more slowly in the decade of the 90s after carrying out the structural adjustments recommended by the international funding institutions. The numbers of the poor increased by 28 million, unequal income distribution did not improve, most employment opportunities were generated in the informal sector and in several sectors wages were lower than those of the previous decade.
"This reality is a serious obstacle for development, it constitutes a moral scandal and it seriously threatens social peace," Aylwin said in his lecture.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, time is pressing and solutions are not arriving," he told the representatives of the international community at the FAO Conference. "The challenge is big and urgent. It demands the maximum zeal and efficiency of the international organizations to study, to propose and to implement realistic solutions and it demands vision, independence and courage of the statesmen to adopt the decisions needed for the common good ".
"I hope - concluded the former Chilean President - that the considerations examined help to adopt agreements and more effective recommendations to overcome successfully the battle against hunger and for the best development of the agriculture in the world ".
Former President Aylwin was invited by the Director-General of FAO to pronounce this year's McDougall Memorial Lecture as a statesman deeply engaged on issues of freedom and justice, who notably influenced the strengthening of democracy in the entire Latin American region. President of Chile from 1990 to 1994, Aylwin has been awarded honoris causa doctorates by 20 universities in Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, and received the North/South award from the North/South Centre of the Council of Europe, together with Mrs. Mary Robinson, President of Ireland.
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