Argentine Group Says Poverty Is a Priority

Conclusions of First Stage of Table of Dialogue

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BUENOS AIRES, MARCH 4, 2002 ( Argentina´s Table of Dialogue, which is trying to help the nation get back on its feet, says the first priority is the 1.4 million new poor created by the economic and political crisis.

«To deny justice to those who are suffering spiritually and materially would be the end of our common destiny as a nation,» the members of the Table explained, including representatives of the government, the United Nations, and the Catholic Church.

At the conclusion of its first stage, the Table of Dialogue, which was created by Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde on Jan. 14, published a «first document of coincidences» last week entitled «Building the Transition.»

The document states that the challenge of poverty — the jobless rate stands at 30% — as well as the people´s mistrust of their leaders «requires concrete acts, contributions and renunciations that binds us in the imperative task to abolish privileges and perks.»

The Catholic Church is represented in the Table by Bishop Juan Carlos Maccarone of Santiago del Estero, Bishop Jorge Casaretto of San Isidro, and Bishop Ramon Staffolani of Rio Cuarto.

The Table of Dialogue is focusing the international community´s attention on the emergency nature of the Argentine social crisis and appeals for efforts toward «an international negotiation that will make possible a specific package of resources of cooperation sufficient to transform the country equitably.»

The above implies that Argentines, «and the state powers and provincial governments in the first place,» realize «that we are living in a transition stage whose main objective is to preserve institutions, reconstruct social peace, and give concrete answers to the problems posed by Argentine society,» the Table document emphasizes.

«The transition must be constructed by all and must be given the widest possible base to remove the risk of anarchy and smooth the way for the full strengthening of democratic life,» the Table´s components state.

The Table of Dialogue announced the beginning of a new phase, which will «gather representatives of the economic and social sectors, in consultation with high-level academics, to define a strategy for the country and a shared view of the future.»

A four-year recession helped lead to looting and protests in December which forced President Fernando de la Rúa from office.

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