Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica on Friday defended South America’s integration as a peace zone and reiterated the two countries commitment to Mercosur and Unasur.
“Within the framework of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) we hope to deepen our mutual understanding in order to create a common vision of defence and security for the region, consolidating South America as a zone of peace and democracy,” Lula da Silva said in a brief address after the meeting on the Brazil-Uruguay border.
Without mentioning any particular crisis or referring to Thursday’s Unasur foreign ministers’ meeting in Quito to analyze the Columbian-Venezuelan crisis, Lula da Silva said that “Uruguay and Brazil want a South America that is integrated and without conflicts”.
The Brazilian president also spoke of the economic strength of Mercosur that will be celebrating 20 years in 2011: in spite of the world crisis “the four economies of Mercosur were the ones which most expanded”.
Lula da Silva and Mujica on their fourth summit in five months, unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion in the Uruguayan border city of Rivera, and later met in a Brazilian Army barrack at the neighbouring Brazilian city of Santana do Livramento.
Both presidents gave as an example of integration the easy coexistence of Brazilians and Uruguayans (270.000 people) in those two cities stitched together by streets virtually without borders.
“Maybe in a hundred years or so, all of Latin America’s borders will be like those of Santana and Rivera. It’s probable that political borders as we know them will be diluted over time,” Mujica said.
Uruguay and Brazil share almost 1.100 kilometres of virtually open borders.
They also spoke of the unprecedented defence cooperation accord they signed Friday and their own personal friendship as examples of what they would like for all of South America.
“When our ministers have differences, may they please have a look at the friendship between President Mujica and President Lula da Silva and make peace, because that’s the only way we’re going to improve the life of our two peoples,” Lula da Silva said.
Mujica said for his part that he hopes all Latin America learns to be as inclined to negotiate as the Brazilian president.
“I don’t know how much longer I have to live, but it won’t be enough to be able to express my gratitude for all that you have contributed, without your even being aware of it, to the history of Latin America,” the 75-year-old Uruguayan said in a speech that brought tears to Lula da Silva’s eyes
Mujica added that he was sure Brazil had been sowed with many “Lulitas” in the streets of the great cities of Brazil dreaming that “it is possible, brick by brick, to build a more fair society and a bit better than that that saw us born”.
Thank you for teaching us that to covert conflicts in negotiations said Mujica pointing out that “we have learnt that if we can’t achieve 50, let’s see if at least ten, so our people can live a bit better”.
“In order to be anybody at all in a globalizing international world, we have to join with Brazil, Argentina and the other countries of the region” emphasized Mujica.
Besides a defence cooperation pact, the two presidents signed a memorandum on fisheries and fluvial transport and an accord on scientific, technological and academic cooperation. They also discussed the creation of a new interconnected electrical grid and the integration of railroad lines along the border.
Lula da Silva also promised Brazil would pay for most of the bill for the construction of a second international bridge across the river Yaguaron.
Both presidents called for the strengthening of trade and investment. Brazil has become Uruguay’s main partner with bilateral trade reaching 1.3 billion US dollars in the first half of the year, up 23% from 2009.
Finally Lula da Silva also congratulated Uruguay for its fourth place in the recent World Cup played in South Africa and Diego Forlán who was considered the best player in South Africa. “Nevertheless we expect to win the Cup in 2014”, which is to be played in Brazil, said the Brazilian leader.