A group of current and former Latin American Presidents plus two former Spanish Prime Ministers Friday announced in Santiago, Chile, the creation of the so-called Liberty and Democracy Group, which should become a space for reflection, coordination, dialogue, and action to strengthen freedom and democracy in the region.
Those signing the foundation were:
Active presidents: Guillermo Lasso (Ecuador), Mario Abdo Benítez (Paraguay)
Former presidents: Mauricio Macri (Argentina), Felipe Calderón (Mexico), Vicente Fox (Mexico), Iván Duque (Colombia), Andrés Pastrana (Colombia), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia).
Former Spanish Prime Ministers: Mariano Rajoy, José María Aznar.
The launching event was held Friday at the Casona de Las Condes of the Universidad Andrés Bello. It was attended by Pastrana, Quiroga, and Piñera.
Aznar, Calderón, Rajoy, Duque, and Macri participated virtually and Lasso and Abdo sent a recorded message each.
We believe it is necessary to organize ourselves to defend freedom and democracy in our continent, Piñera said. Latin America continues to be an underdeveloped continent and democracy is in danger in a large part of the continent, he admitted.
Freedom has to be the basis for generating viable societies, for economic growth, and for the stability of political systems, Aznar said.
The most important threat in Mexico is the alliance of Andrés Manuel López Obrador's government with organized crime, Calderón stressed while denouncing that press freedom was restricted in his country after 37 journalists have been murdered in Mexico during the government of López Obrador.
Mariano Rajoy pointed out that he adheres to the Group because he believes in the values of freedom, respect for human rights, and the rule of law.
Ibero-America has to be with democracies because it is the system that generates the most growth; there is a lot of data in recent history that shows that by working things can improve, said Rajoy. It is necessary to work in favor of institutional stability, he also pointed out.
This is not a club of former presidents, it was born with us but transcends us and seeks to defeat post-truth by defending real information, warned Duque, who added he wanted to stand up against populism.
In Colombia, we have a president who is an ally of drug trafficking, Pastrana said about Gustavo Petro. In every law that Petro's government has presented in Congress there is always an article that favors drug trafficking, he underlined. Pastrana also said he believed it was an important issue for the region to have the Amazon declared a world heritage site for its protection.