ACAPULCO, Mexico — Latin American presidents Friday sharply criticized industrialized nations for ignoring their crushing economic problems and called for joint action to confront "the dragons of our decline" in the march for prosperity.
"The era of waiting for saving help from the outside has ended," said Brazilian President Jose Sarney in the opening session of an eight-nation summit in this Pacific coastal resort.
"The political will to bring Latin America out of its tragic decline does not exist on the part of the industrialized nations," he said. "We will have to fight with our own efforts."
The presidents, who represent more than 80% of the population of Latin America, repeatedly complained that foreign debts have drained their economies and forced them into decline.
Alan Garcia, the leftist president of Peru, urged his colleagues to make only the debt payments their economies can afford.
"Each of us has the right in the name of our people to not pay more than what its economy can pay and to not pay if its social situation doesn't permit it," he said. "That is the moral law of the debtors and the moral obligation of we who govern."
Garcia's government already has limited payments on its $14.5-billion foreign debt to 10% of Peru's export earnings.
Mexico's President Miguel de la Madrid, who is the host of the summit, was less dramatic but no less concerned.
"Today, it is vital to adjust debt service to the ability to pay and the need for growth in Latin America," he said. "We are not disowning international promises, but our first concern should be the present and future well-being of each one of our peoples."