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Shakira launches foundation to fight poverty in Latin America

Recruits Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, Juan Luis Guerra and other big name Latino celebrities!

Written by Ozzie Gonzalez,

December 19, 2006 -- Hip-shaking superstar, Shakira, is using her celebrity status and opening up her heart to develop a foundation to help poor children from Latin American countries to get health care, education shelter and more.

Fundacion ALAS, otherwise known as the Latin America In Solidarity Action, will be led by the 29 year old, Shakira along with fellow Colombian and Nobel Prize recipient Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Shakira, also heads the Colombia-based nonprofit foundation Pies Descalzos, or Barefoot, which helps the child victims of violence in that South American country.

Spanish singer Miguel Bose will serve as executive director of the foundation.

The ALAS promoters said the foundation does not pretend to replace other organizations that work with children or eliminate the obligation governments have to eradicate poverty, but to strengthen existing efforts.

"We all have to do our part to fight against inequality," Shakira said in a news release issued prior to the launching ceremony at the National Theater. The foundation will be based in the City of Knowledge, a former U.S. armed forces base near the Panama Canal that already houses academic institutions, high-tech business and nongovernmental international organizations

"Latin America has some devastating statistics," added Garcia, citing the 350,000 children under 5 who die from causes linked to poverty, and the 40 million minors who work in the street.

Dominican singer, Juan Luis Guerra who attended the launch of the foundation also spoke about the importance of uniting to combat poverty in Latin America.

“This should be a common effort … and we artists want to make this effort and help Latin American children in the fields of education, health care, and nourishment,” said Guerra.

“We’re already working, we have set the foundation’s objectives and I think it’s a praiseworthy idea, and we will do our best to help it come true,” added Guerra.

One of the foundation's programs will provide health and nutritional assistance to pregnant women and children under 2, while a second program will try to enroll exploited and homeless children in school.

Also attending the event were 20 additional Latin American artists, as well as financial titans including telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, of Mexico, the world's third-richest man.

"The artists are building something different, with a vision and an interest in inclusion," said Nils Kastberg, a representative of UNICEF, which also backs the foundation.

The artists plan to hold five musical concerts, starting next year, to collect funds for the foundation.

Other musicians supporting the effort include Ruben Blades, Juanes, Ricky Martin, the rock group Mana, Aleks Syntek, David Bisbal and Alejandro Sanz.



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