The SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean met in Caracas on 25-26 September, where it was hosted by our member party in Venezuela, Democratic Action, AD, in advance of parliamentary and governatorial elections in November and presidential elections scheduled for December. The gathering opened with a tribute in memory of our dear friend and comrade José Francisco Peña Gómez, who had chaired the Committee for almost twenty years. Lewis Pérez, General Secretary of the AD, welcomed delegates from nearly thirty parties from the region and beyond. Greetings were conveyed by María Emma Mejía from the Liberal Party of Colombia, PLC, and the General Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE, Joaquín Almunia. SI Secretary General Luis Ayala, who chaired the meeting, also addressed the delegates. Luis Alfaro Ucero, the Presidential candidate of AD, stated that the transformation to an ordered and efficient state in Venezuela was the basis of his party's electoral programme, and collective answers were required to the problems of poverty and marginalisation.
The discussion on the first main theme, 'Democracy, State and Governability: social democratic proposals for addressing the new challenges', was introduced by AD President Carlos Canache Mata; Rolando Araya Monge, leader of the National Liberation Party, PLN, of Costa Rica, and SI Vice-President; and Gustavo Galland of the Argentinian Popular Socialist Party, PSP.
For the second main theme of the meeting, the Committee turned to focus on 'Common approaches and perspectives on the changes in world markets and the effects on regional economies', which was introduced by Carmelo Lauria of the AD, and a great number of contributions to the debate were added. Committee members concluded that a social democratic economic strategy for Latin America had to be proposed which could meet world changes in a more decisive way. The Committee expressed the need for policies which would favour exports from the regions, as well as the development of national markets, stimulating internal consumption and increasing social welfare policies for the benefit of the greater number. A Latin American economic area with a common currency, common capital markets and a common technological base was favoured as an option for the future economic development of the region.
Brief reports were presented on the national situations of some countries. A resolution was adopted calling for urgent reform of the international financial institutions. The Committee also welcomed the first Summit of Latin American and European Union Heads of State and Government that will be held in June 1999. SICLAC expressed its support of the elections in Venezuela and the strengthening of democratic institutions in the country. The Committee declared its solidarity with the people of Haiti, and reiterated its serious concern for democratic institutions in Peru. It showed its strong support for the victims of Hurricane Georges in the Dominican Republic, in Haiti and in Puerto Rico. Also, SICLAC in a statement expressed its hopes for peace following the truce announced by ETA in Spain.
Other meetings of the Committee