World News

Latin American poverty eases to 32 pct in 2010 - UN

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Poverty in Latin America will ease to 32.1 percent in 2010 from 33.1 percent last year as economies recover from the worst of the global crisis, the United Nations’ regional economic body said on Tuesday.

Alicia Barcena, head of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, said the region was back on track in its battle to reduce poverty that started in 2003 and was interrupted in 2009 by the global financial crisis.

“Countries in the region are showing a resilience in social variables that didn’t register in prior crises,” Barcena said at a press conference.

The disparity between the rich and poor in Latin America is among the greatest in the world. The commission’s report said higher incomes among poor households and government spending during the financial crisis helped contain poverty levels.

An ongoing economic recovery driven by higher commodity prices allowed Latin America and the Caribbean to cut the number of impoverished citizens by 3 million this year to 180 million.

About 72 million of those people are living in extreme poverty, or 12.9 percent of the total population, down from 13.3 percent in 2009.

Reporting by Maria Jose Latorre; writing by Brad Haynes