Chile Opts out of UNASUR in a Bid for Right-Wing Integration

The country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Ampuero, told Chilean news outlet la Tercera that "it is completely unviable to revive the group.”

Even though it was later than expected, Chile’s right-wing government has denounced on Sunday the Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), officially initiating its departure from the organization.

RELATED: Brazil Quits UNASUR After Receiving Pro Tempore Presidency

The country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Ampuero, told Chilean news outlet la Tercera that "it is completely unviable to revive the group” due to its stagnation and lack of leadership, adding that now “the space that does have a clear agenda and active participation is Prosur, successfully promoted by Chile."

The regional bloc activities have been paralyzed since 2017 as there wasn’t a consensus to choose a new General Secretary to succeed the Colombian Ernesto Samper. The situation aggravated as the right-wing U.S. backed “Group of Lima”, created a competing diplomatic group called ProSur on March 22, 2019, to counteract Unasur in accordance with U.S.’s interventionist agenda against Venezuela and neoliberal policies in the region. 

Guyanese President David Arthur Granger as well as right-wing presidents Mauricio Macri (Argentina), Jair Bolsonaro (Brasil), Sebastian Piñera (Chile), Ivan Duque (Colombia), Lenin Moreno (Ecuador), Martin Vizcarra (Peru), and Mario Abdo Benitez (Paraguay) signed their allegiance to the new accord, in Santiago. Delegates from Uruguay, Bolivia, and Suriname strengthened their resolve and support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s legitimate claim to the presidency, refusing to condone the initiative.

In a statement tweeted on Sunday, Piñera announced his decision to expedite the process to both chambers of the Chilean congress in order to officially defect from the regional bloc. This comes as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Colombia all have also begun the request to leave UNASUR. 


The Right Thing to Do? Argentina Also out of UNASUR

All countries, due to the group’s Charter, must now wait for the standby period, which is six months since the denouncement date.  Uruguay, Venezuela, Suriname, Guayana, Bolivia, and Peru are still part of the group, even though the latter nation suspended its participation in April 2018. 

The regional bloc, whose goal was to promote regional integration since its creation in Brasilia on May 23, 2008, now faces serious obstacles as Brazil concluded the Treaty on April 15,  just hours after receiving the Pro Tempore Presidency from Bolivia. 

This means that, currently, the group lacks both a General Secretary and an active Pro Tempore President. Yet Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Diego Pary, said on April 18 that even though Bolivia “respects the sovereign decision of Brazil to leave, according to the Constitutive Treaty,” as long as the country remains in the group while in the standby period, it still “has obligations" to fulfill.


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Bolivia: Unasur Still Active Despite Attacks From Some Nations

"The Unasur parliament is prepared and has the necessary infrastructure to make the General Secretariat work here in Bolivia," said Bolivian Foreign Minister Diego Pary.

Bolivian Foreign Minister Diego Pary said Sunday that the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) remains active with its members fully engaged, following the recent decision of Ecuador to leave the block and demand the return of the building that houses the General Secretariat in Quito.

RELATED: Ecuador's Ex-President Rafael Correa on UNASUR 'Disintegration'

"Unasur has difficulties at the moment, there are six countries that several months ago decided to suspend their participation in the different activities and meetings, however, the block is still active," Pary commented on state television Bolivia TV.

On March 11, the Ecuadorean government formalized the decision to suspend its participation and withdraw from the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur thereby leaving the bloc, joining Colombian President Ivan Duque, who on Aug 27, 2018, made a similar decision. Other nations such as  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru suspended their participation in April 2018.

At the moment, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and Uruguay are its only active members. In order, to continue the work made by the South American integration body Pary said that in his capacity as president pro tempore of UNASUR, Bolivia is willing to offer the Parlasur building in Cochabamba, to house the new headquarters of the General Secretariat.

"The Unasur parliament is prepared and has the necessary infrastructure to make it work (the General Secretariat) here in Bolivia if Ecuador decides to denounce the treaty," he added.

However, Ecuador’s withdrawal will not be immediate. According to article 24 of the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur, the pullout will take effect after six months from the date the notification was received by the body. The Ecuadorean constitution of 2008 itself states that leaving international treaties are required to pass through the country's National Assembly.

At the same time, the Ecuadorean Government has mentioned its intent to adhere to the proposal of a new “integration” project called Prosur, an idea from presidents Ivan Duque (Colombia) and Sebastian Piñera (Chile) with the main purpose of excluding Venezuela. 

The Bolivian Foreign Minister noted that the creation of a new regional platform "has not even started”, adding that even though “two meetings of regional coordinators have taken place, but we see there are difficulties in this new proposal put forward by some countries."

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Ecuador Suspends Participation in UNASUR, To Formally Withdraw

The organization, meant to integrate South American countries as a counter to U.S. hegemony, has five remaning members.

In a letter addressed to the Secretariat of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Pro Tempore Monday the Ecuadorean government formalized the decision to suspend its participation and withdraw from the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur thereby leaving the bloc.

RELATED Duque: Colombia Will Create Prosur To Replace Unasur

"Ecuador will stop participating in all activities and commitments of the organization and initiate internal procedures for the retraction of the treaty," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, Jose Valencia, to his Bolivian counterpart, Diego Pary, whose country is in charge of the Pro Tempore Secretariat.

The government of Lenin Moreno is now the second to formalize its abandonment of the treaty, joining Colombian President Ivan Duque, who on Aug, 27, 2018 made a similar decision. Since April 2018, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru suspended their participation, leaving Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and Uruguay as active members.

The decision comes six months after the Ecuadorean foreign minister publicly ruled out that his country would leave the organization during a press conference where, instead announcing withdrawal from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Trade Treaty of the American Peoples (ALBA-TCP).

Former President Rafael Correa, expressed via Twitter that this decision is "a death sentence for the organization." This possible dissolution occurs at a time of ascension for right-wing governments in the region, with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera proposing a new regional bloc called Prosur.

However, Ecuador’s withdrawal will not be immediate. According to article 24 of the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur, the pullout will take effect after six months from the date the notification was received by the body. The Ecuadorean constitution of 2008 itself states that leaving international treaties are required to pass through the countyr’s National Assembly.

Once the retreat becomes official, it’s headquarters, located in Quito, and whose property was donated by the government of Rafael Correa, will return to state hands, leaving the body without any building. In July 2018, Lenin Moreno announced his plans for the building, where he hopes to create an intercultural university.

Unasur has promoted regional integration since its creation in Brasilia on May 23, 2008, under the leadership of the Bolivarian revolutionary, Hugo Chávez.

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Colombia announces withdrawal from South American bloc conceived to counter US

The Colombian president has said a letter has been sent to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) announcing his country's withdrawal, meaning Bogota will officially cut loose from the bloc in six months.

Newly sworn-in Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Monday that his country has started a formal withdrawal process stipulated by the organization's constituent treaty, that begins with a member-state sending a written notice to the bloc's headquarters.

"Today with precise instructions, the foreign minister sent UNASUR the letter where we denounce the constituent treaty of that entity and in six months our withdrawal will be effective," Duque announced in a brief televised statement, as he followed through on his pre-election pledge to get Colombia out of the bloc, which was originally intended to foster regional integration and counter US influence when it was founded in 2008.

© Miraflores Palace

Right-wing Duque, who took office on August 7, had previously indicated that Colombia's departure from the 12-member organization was imminent.

Announcing Colombia's withdrawal on Monday, Duque claimed that the bloc of nations had failed to address a political crisis in Venezuela, which has been rocked by a wave of anti-government protests and the attempted assassination of President Nicholas Maduro earlier this year. Echoing the rhetoric of the US White House, Duque has labeled the Maduro government a "dictatorship"; he has also called the UNASUR Maduro's "greatest accomplice."

Colombia became the first and, so far, the only one of the organization's 12 members to formally leave UNASUR. In April, six countries –Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru– suspended their membership for a period of one year, citing differences over choosing the group's secretary general.

Venezuela, Ecuador as well as Guyana, Suriname and Uruguay continue to remain full members of the bloc.

Prior to Colombia renouncing its membership, Bolivia urged Duque to reconsider his position, hailing the group as "the natural space of integration that constitutes the hallmark of the peoples of the South because we are united by our history and by Mother Earth."

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UNASUR Ex President Calls for Unity Now

This is the moment to be united and not divided, affirmed today the former president of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), Ernesto Samper, highlighting the region''s challenges in the face of the imperialist attack.

Interviewed by the newspaper Cambio, the former president of Colombia (1994-1998) analyzed the crisis that unasur is going through in the decision made last April by six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru), suspend its participation in the meetings of that block.

In his opinion, this situation is motivated by ideological differences between countries that unfortunately have not been solved using the channels offered by Unasur through the councils of foreign ministers, which has prevented to find agreements around a name that occupies the General Secretariat , which is vacant more than a year ago.

He expressed his expectation that 'the path of agreement is quickly found to elect a person, no matter what nationality he is or the ideology he professes, of the government or of the country from which he comes,' he stressed.

I hope that with the efforts being made by Bolivian President Evo Morales we will have the ability to pass this bridge and continue working for South American integration in the way that Unasur has been doing it in the last 10 years and also Mercosur, ALBA or the Andean Community are all these experiences that should not be disregarded, he said.

I hope, 'Samper said,' that this is an episode that can be overcome, 'because the presence of an integration body in the region has never been more important than today, when the region is seriously threatened by the president's completely protectionist and imperialist policy. the United States, which has turned its international agenda into aggressive decisions against the interests of Latin America. '

It exemplified with the wall of Mexico, the expulsion of ten million migrants from the United States, the regulations to prevent access to the United States, the raising of tariffs for our products and the withdrawal of the commitments of climate change that were fundamental to sustain the environmental stability of the region.

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Dismantling Unasur Would Be a 'Historical Error': Ex-Chief

Samper argued the regional integration body is more necessary today in the face of threats by 'foolish Donald Trump.' 

Ernesto Samper, the former secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), has warned that allowing the regional integration body to be dismantled or disappear would be a “historical error,” and would “weaken our countries when it is most needed to face the threats to the region and the world since the foolish Donald Trump presides over the United States.”  

ANALYSIS: How Lima Group Undermines Unasur's Regional Sovereignty Mission

Unasur entered a prolonged impasse in late April when six countries, all belonging to the United States aligned Lima Group, announced they were temporarily withdrawing from the South American integration body.

According to a joint letter sent to Bolivia, which holds the pro-tempore presidency of Unasur, the withdrawal was a response to the incapacity of Unasur countries to choose a secretary general since early 2017 when Samper, a former Colombian president (1994-1998), ended his term.

In an op-ed written for EFE, Samper detailed U.S. policies that threaten the region and said destroying Unasur will be akin to suicide.  

“Trump’s ‘axe of war’ contemplates the expulsion of Latino migrants who have lived in the United States for years; the construction of divisive walls in the border with Mexico; non-compliance with environmental regulation, that due to global warming increases the risk of natural disasters in the Caribbean; increasing taxes for our key exports; or questioning Colombia’s peace accords,” Samper explains.

RELATED: Ex-Unasur Chief: 'Aggressive' US Threatens Regional Integration 

“To disregard the joint response to such challenges is like jumping overboard when the storm rages,” Samper said.   

Despite the formal justification, some fear the intention is to dismantle Unasur. In a previous interview, Samper acknowledged the United States would prefer to have the Organization of American States as the only regional body.

The creation of Unasur did not only represent a regional body that excluded the U.S., but it also challenged U.S. military hegemony in the region.

The South American Defense Council “reiterated its commitment against foreign military bases in South America when former president Alvaro Uribe authorized the presence of several bases in the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Its implementation could’ve taken us to the brink of unseen levels of hemispheric conflict” Samper explained.

After presenting other Unasur accomplishments in the fields of migration, health, and education, Samper warned: “Lowering our guard against what has been achieved over the years, transforming what is now a space of integration into a field of controversy would be, as well as unforgivable, a serious historical error.”

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UNASUR Library Receives Cuban Donation with José Martí Books

Quito, April 5 (Prensa Latina) The library of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), located in the Middle of the World, received today books, as well as audiovisual and musical material donated by the Cuban Embassy.

The complete works of José Martí and facsimile versions of the Golden Age (children's stories), also written by the Cuban national hero and renowned writer, journalist and Latin American thinker, were part of the donation.

Other publications related to his life and work, as well as works in the voice of the singer of the Caribbean archipelago Omara Portuondo, complete the donation, Yudy Rivera, the first secretary of the Cuban embassy in Ecuador, told Prensa Latina.

'The library is nourished by donations made by almost all UNASUR member countries and diplomatic representations of other nations accredited in Ecuador and Cuba has, of course, joined in this type of actions, in connection with the celebrations on April 4, Day of José Martí Pioneer Organization,' she clarified.

Meanwhile, Liset Lantigua, head of Gabriel García Márquez Library, located in the headquarters of the multilateral forum, thanked the 'important' gift, which will complement the fund the institution has.

'Here they will be very useful, because we did not have the Complete Works of Jose Marti, and we are also pleased to have the stories narrated in the Golden Age, as well as the audiovisual material on the magazine Origins and Cuba,' she said.

The Cuban award-winning librarian and writer added that some of the literature with which they count makes a sweep of the history of the continent and contains some essays, chronicles and loose books of Martí, but it did not have the Complete Works.

According to her, the main function of Gabriel García Márquez Library is to promote the habit of reading and contribute to the works that guide students from educational institutions located in Ecuador, although people from anywhere can access to it.

One of the actions that characterize the library is the loan of books, which, according to Lantigua, always return and there are some people that even after the return, takes them back with them.

With the Cuban donation, UNASUR and its library expand the possibilities of the visitors, to know the ideology of one of the main Latin American independence leaders.

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Venezuela: Support for Government-Opposition Dialogue Stressed

Caracas, Jun 2 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez cataloged today as a victory for her country within the OAS the support for the dialogue between the government and the opposition with the accompaniment of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur, in Spanish).

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