Santiago, Dec 5 (EFE).- The number of Latin American and Caribbean residents living in poverty held steady this year at 164 million, or 27.9 percent of the region's total population, after more than a decade of significant annual reductions, a U.N. panel said here Thursday.
The change can be attributed to a slowing of economic growth, the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, said.
While rising food prices this year have spurred an increase in the ranks of the indigent from 66 million to 68 million, according to ECLAC's 2013 Latin American Social Outlook.
"Since 2002, poverty in Latin America has fallen 15.7 percentage points and indigence by 8.0 points, but the recent figures show a deceleration," Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena said during the presentation of the report at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago.
Of the 11 countries that provided data for 2012, Venezuela reported the largest year-on-year reduction in the proportion of the poor, from 29.5 percent to 23.9 percent, ECLAC said.
"The only acceptable number of people living in poverty is zero," Barcena said, urging the governments of Latin America to effect "structural change in their economies to grow in a sustained manner with greater equality."