President Luis Guillermo Solís is set to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of five nations in the Caribbean and South America this week during the third Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in San José, the president confirmed during a press conference Monday.
Solís and Foreign Minister Manual González said that the third CELAC summit, a loose collection of 33 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, would focus on fighting extreme poverty in Latin America. González said the meetings this week would seek to identify specific objectives to reduce extreme poverty in the region, including a possible regional index that would track progress. The minister said, however, that considering the differing resources of each country, it was unlikely that any sanctions would result from failure to meet poverty targets.
Solís added that hunger was another key topic the summit will address within the theme of poverty. The Costa Rican president is set to meet with U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva on Tuesday.
More than 28 percent of the region’s 600 million people live in poverty and nearly 12 percent live in extreme poverty, according to a recent report from the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Costa Rica also saw a slight increase in its poverty rate, rising to a four-year high of 21.2 percent.
One topic that permeates the region that will not be front and center is violence. Citing limited time, González told The Tico Times that violence and impunity are among the 22 principal points of the group but that poverty would be the focus of the San José summit. González opined that CELAC would have to eventually streamline its main objectives to better focus its efforts.
On Wednesday, Solís will meet with his counterpart from Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, and Haitian President Michel Martelly. Solís said he would like to discuss cooperation on security issues during his meetings with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and ask President Michelle Bachelet of Chile for advice on topics like fiscal management and infrastructure.
On Thursday, Solís will meet with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who will accept the presidency pro tempore of CELAC at the conclusion of the summit.