In September 2000, world leaders met and established a lofty set of goals for improvement of the situation facing the poor of the world. On that occasion they identified goals for their efforts to combat poverty and hunger, reverse environmental degradation, achieve improvements in the fields of education and health, and promote gender equality. The world leaders committed to meet the "Millennium Development Goals," including a reduction by half of the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1USD per day), by the year 2015.
Now a little less than five years later, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), a United Nations organization, released a report on the progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The report provides an in-depth look at Latin America and the Caribbean. The overarching conclusion of the report is that inequality remains entrenched in Latin America and stands as an obstacle to achieving goals for the reduction of poverty. Economic growth does not automatically result in lifting up the poor:
The pivotal theme of this report is the question of inequality. Despite the major strides made in relation to a number of social issues, Latin America and the Caribbean still has the dubious distinction of being the most inequitable region in the world. Hindered by protracted periods of slow growth, the region has been unable to reduce the inequality associated with its distribution of income and access to productive assets. Another equally important contributing factor has been the shortage of quality jobs of the sort that would allow workers to lift themselves out of poverty. People who live in poverty see that their children have little access to suitable health and education services or, in many cases, to an adequate supply of food. As a consequence of all these factors, there is a high probability that the children of poor households will fail to obtain quality employment and will remain in that position when they reach adulthood. This situation is one of the major manifestations of the vicious circle of poverty.
The report is full of statistics and indicators for El Salvador and the rest of the countries in the region. The report's conclusion quoted above certainly applies fully to El Salvador. The distribution of wealth and income remains greatly skewed in the country, and despite real progress in reduction of poverty levels from the end of the civil war through the year 2000, the country has made little progress since then.
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