Leaders from the Union of South American Nations, UNASUR are scheduled to meet May 3 and 4 in Buenos Aires with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner acting as host and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa as temporary chairman.
The most controversial issue will be naming the standing Secretary General of the group, for which former president Nestor Kirchner has been preparing for months, only to be derailed by Uruguay’s veto stemming from the conflict over the construction of pulp mills along a river shared by both countries.
However with Uruguayan former leader Tabaré Vazquez out of the picture, the new president José Mujica is anxious to normalize relations with Argentina and has met on several occasions with the Argentine ruling couple.
Since the issue is highly sensitive on both sides of the River Plate, Uruguayan Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Almagro has refused to anticipate the country’s position, saying it will be known on the same day the vote is taken.
However given the cordial relation of Mujica with the Kirchner matrimony and with the International Court of Justice judgement behind, political and diplomatic sources anticipate Uruguay will not object to the nomination.
On Monday May 3 Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Taiana will chair the UNASUR extraordinary meeting of chancellors who will prepare the agenda and documents to be signed at the presidents’ summit the following day.
Tuesday morning the Presidential Council officially meets to address the agenda, sign agreements and for the official photo of the event. By mid afternoon all delegations will have flown back to their countries of origin.
Ensuring regional cooperation for Haiti that suffered a devastating earthquake last January and support and cooperation for Chile, which was also rattled by a quake and tsunami last February 27 is one of the several points of the agenda as well as considering the political, social and economic situation of the region and UNASUR country members.
The political situation of Honduras that suffered a coup last July but is returning to normality following calendar elections also figures in the agenda. But agreeing on the standing chairman will be the main issue, because although Uruguay openly vetoed Mr. Kirchner at the time, it was known other UNASUR members were not convinced of his nomination.
Since then, the Argentine president Cristina Kirchner has visited Lima and apologized to President Alan Garcia and Peruvian congress for Argentina’s attitude, providing weapons to Ecuador, during the armed border conflict with Peru.
The apologize was long overdue because Peru was one of the staunchest allies and supplier of weapons, including deadly Exocet missiles, to Argentina during the Falklands/Malvinas conflict with Great Britain back in 1982.
The Kirchners are already thinking in the 2011 presidential election and want Nestor Kirchner in an international post, less exposed domestically, helping to create an international status for the former president.
UNASUR is made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela. The organization was created in Cuzco, Peru in December 2004. The block’s purpose is to develop an integrated political space which can ensure the presence and participation of South America as an only voice in multilateral and world forums.