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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 02:46 GMT
Stars to launch 'Latin Live Aid'
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the foundation's honorary president
Musicians, intellectuals and leading businessmen from across Latin America are in Panama to announce a series of benefit concerts next year.

The events are part of a drive to help reduce regional poverty and observers say they will partly emulate the Live Aid humanitarian effort for Africa.

They will feature stars including Colombian singer Shakira and the Panamanian salsa singer, Ruben Blades.

Buenos Aires, Miami and Los Angeles are among five cities hosting the events.

The concerts are part of a wider foundation, the Latin America Solidarity Action Foundation - known as Alas or wings in Spanish.

Facing facts

The Colombian novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is the honorary president of the foundation which was also launched on Tuesday.

Colombian pop singer Shakira
Colombian pop singer Shakira was at the launch in Panama

Its aims include improving development and tackling child poverty.

"Latin America has some devastating statistics," Mr Garcia Marquez said at the launch.

He made reference to the 350,000 children under five who die from causes linked to poverty and the 40 million minors who work in the street.

"We all have to do our part to fight against inequality," pop singer Shakira said prior to the launch.

The foundation has received the backing of Unicef.

"The artists are building something different, with a vision and an interest in inclusion," representative Nils Kastberg said.

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