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UNASUR Summit Convenes in Buenos Aires with Backlog of Controversial Issues

Saturday, May 1st 2010 - 08:49 UTC
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Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, pro tempore president  Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, pro tempore president

The extraordinary summit of presidents of countries members of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is to debate next Tuesday in Buenos Aires an agenda dominated by the intention of former Argentine president Néstor Kirchner to run for the post of Secretary General of the regional bloc.

The help sent to Haiti and Chile after the earthquakes, the debate of the reincorporation of Honduras to the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as political and economic issues will also be topics to be discussed during the meeting.

The bilateral topics between UNASUR members might also be debated during the extraordinary session, which is to be led by the Heads of State of Ecuador, Rafael Correa as the pro-tempore president of the bloc and of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in her role as hostess. On Monday, the South American Foreign Affairs ministers will prepare the agenda.

Correa is personally promoting the designation of Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) as UNASUR Secretary General, but his candidacy was vetoed beforehand by the then Uruguayan President Tabaré Vazquez, while Peru and Colombia avoided taking sides.

The political situation of the region changed in the last few months and everything seems to indicate that Kirchner will be elected, after the current Uruguayan President José Mujica gave a green light in the midst of his and the Argentine governments' efforts to overcome the conflict that ties both nations to a paper mill plant installed on their border.

Those not assisting the meeting would be Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and Peruvian President Alan García, who are to be represented by their Foreign Affairs ministers, while in Argentina many questions are arising from the opposition regarding Kirchner's candidacy as head of the UNASUR.

Uribe is currently immersed in an intense electoral campaign ahead of the elections that will decide his successor in May, while tension continues in Bogotá with his country neighbours, Venezuela and Ecuador. Added to the criticisms produced after Colombia and the US signed the military agreement are the questions coming from Caracas and Quito directed against Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos, Uribe's former defence minister. The Colombian President, meanwhile, asked his neighbours once again to commit to the fight against terrorism.

The summit will also be a good occasion for Brazilian President Lula da Silva to explain to his counterparts the defence agreement signed in April with the US. In contrast with the one signed between Washington and Bogotá, this one does not contemplate the use of military bases in Brazil, nor did it generate any criticisms.

Lula will be arriving at the extraordinary summit strengthened as the regional leader and erected as the most influential personality world-wide, according to TIME Magazine.

This fact, and Lula da Silva’s overwhelming domestic support, grants him a special place in the bloc full of bilateral disputes and ample political differences that reach from the Venezuelan promoted ALBA group to the recent victory in Chile of billionaire Conservative president Sebastián Piñera.

UNASUR was created in 2004 and integrated by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, and Venezuela still has some pending issues. The main one is that its members ratify the UNASUR Treaty, until now only approved by Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Guyana. And later, to be able to specify a summit in the region with US President Barack Obama, in order to strengthen the bloc as a voice in the international scenario.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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