Category Archives: South American Union

Colombia might leave Unasur regional bloc | Sep 17, 2009

Colombia could consider quitting the South American nations bloc Unasur if it does not agree to debate issues related to drug trafficking and terrorism.

The Colombian Defence Minister Gabriel Silva said during the summit of regional foreign and defence ministers in Ecuador that “if there is no sense of urgency on these issues as they are for Colombia, we will be mere spectators. In that case we will have to evaluate the possibility of pulling out.”

Meanwhile, Venezuela said the bases could be used “to gather intelligence, counterintelligence and conspire against us” and added the Venezuelans should get prepared for a possible armed conflict with US and Colombia.

Chavez announces South American Union meeting with African Union

Chávez arrives in Libya as part of a tour of five countries | Aug 30, 2009

Chávez announces Unasur-African Union meeting in Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, who is visiting Libya, on Monday agreed to hold a meeting in Margarita Island between the members of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the African Union on September 26.

“We reiterate the invitation to each and every one of the presidents of the African Union to make an effort and visit Venezuela on September 26 and 27. We have chosen the Margarita Island to host the meeting and we are inviting the Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández to accompany us as special guest. We will also invite (the presidents of) other Caribbean countries, said President Chávez.

“This meeting is very important. We are making a big effort, together with the President of the African Union, the leader Muammar Gaddafi; the secretary of the organization; the chairman of the committee. We have been preparing the agenda (…) along with Brazil,” Chávez added.

FARC is the best instrument of US empire: Morales

Colombia Reports | Aug 24, 2009

by Katharina Wecker

The FARC are “the best instrument of the U.S. empire” as the fight against the guerrillas has become the pretext for U.S. military presence in Colombia, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Monday.

“The U.S. is using the fight against the FARC to justify their military presence in Colombia. I regret to say: they are the best instrument of the empire at the moment,” Morales said at a press conference.

The Bolivian President reiterated his rejection of the military agreement between the U.S. and Colombia allowing the United States to use at least seven Colombian military bases. Morales announced he will defend his position at the next UNASUR meeting to be held in Bariloche, Argentina, on Friday.


Colombia: Chavez finances FARC

Morales said the U.S. military presence in South America will lead to a “political presence” of the United States to “conspire” against other governments, as he believed happened with the coup in Honduras. According to the Bolivian leader, the U.S. Southern Command encouraged the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

But Morales is sure that at the UNASUR summit in Bariloche the South American leaders “will realize, behind closed doors, what will be the consequences of the U.S. military presence in South and Latin America. There will be a debate about the dignity and sovereignty of all countries of South America.”

On Friday all members of UNASUR will meet to discuss the military agreement between the U.S. and Colombia. Despite several explanations about the accord by high U.S. officials and a South American tour by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, the plan continues to raise concerns in a large number of Latin American countries.

South American Leaders Reaffirm Socialist Trinity

Chavez proposed accelerating socialist initiatives. Morales proposed that people suspected of acts of secession or treason in Bolivia are tried by military justice.

The leaders called on the newly formed Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, to create a specific body that can defend governments against “press abuses.”

AFP | May 25, 2009

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP)–The presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela reaffirmed Sunday their commitment to a trilateral socialist alliance as they gathered here to celebrate Quito’s anniversary of independence from Spain.

Ecuador’s newly reelected leader Rafael Correa vowed in the wake of his poll victory to take further steps to “radicalize” the country’s socialist direction, in sync with constitutional reforms championed by his ideological kin, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

“We will not change course,” Correa said in a speech marking the victorious 1822 Battle of Pichincha, near present-day Quito, as he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to integrating socialism in the region.

“On the contrary, we are going to deepen and radicalize our citizen’s revolution, accelerating the process,” he said.

Correa also questioned the existence of full democracy in the region.

“Despite being victors, we continue to maintain that Ecuador and Latin America still does not have democracy,” he said. “At most, we have elections.”

The three leaders boosted trade ties during multiple weekend meetings, with Venezuela and Ecuador on Saturday moving ahead on cooperation agreements in the energy, mining and banking sectors.

As the global economic downturn continues, Chavez also proposed accelerating socialist initiatives, within his country and as a strategic move to cement the leftist direction of South American politics.

“We will not delay, we will speed up the pace,” he said, noting that the economic crisis “opens up the way to build a new world.”

The ideological overtures came as the leaders called on the newly formed Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, to create a specific body that can defend governments against “press abuses.”

At a joint news conference with Chavez on Saturday, Correa promised when he takes on the rotating role of Unasur leader he would seek to battle press corruption that targets the continent’s “lawfully elected governments.”

With his Venezuelan counterpart’s support, Correa vowed to “clean up” the country from a press he described as a “corrupt instrument of the oligarchy” and the main “enemy of change” in both nations.

“Ecuador has the full backing of Venezuela in its internal fight against this phenomenon, which borders on fascist madness that is open, blatant (and) cynical,” said Chavez.

For his part Morales concurred with the sentiment but stopped short of publicly backing the proposal of a Unasur mechanism, although he also joined in with lambasting his country’s media.
Morales said that he will raise the issue when he soon meets with the Inter American Press Association which defends press freedoms.
The president said he plans to discuss with the IAPA “how much of the Bolivia media are corrupt liars.”

On Sunday, Morales also proposed that people suspected of acts of secession or treason in Bolivia are tried by military justice “because they are traitors of the motherland.”

In recent months, Morales, who joins Correa and Chavez as having tense relations with the United States, has accused Washington of conspiring with his opponents to incite violence in Bolivia, and even accused it of having a hand in an assassination plot against him.

Obama dismisses criticism of Chavez handshake


U.S. President Barack Obama greets his Venezuela counterpart Hugo Chavez with a brotherly handshake before the opening ceremony of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain April 17, 2009. Reuters

AFP | Apr 19, 2009

PORT OF SPAIN (AFP) — President Barack Obama defended on Sunday his amicable first encounter with Venezuelan leader and anti-US firebrand Hugo Chavez, which critics back home assailed as naiive and “irresponsible”.

“It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interest of the United States,” Obama told reporters at the close of a Summit of the Americas.

But, he stressed he still had concerns about Venezuela and Chavez’s often heated rhetoric.

“I have great differences with Hugo Chavez on matters of economic policy and matters of foreign policy,” Obama said.

“There have been instances in which we’ve seen Venezuela interfere with some of the countries that surround Venezuela in ways that I think are a source of concern,” he added.

Obama and Chavez met here Friday at the opening of a 34-nation Americas summit and photos of the encounter showed the US leader smiling as he shook the Venezuelan’s hand and patted him on the shoulder.

Chavez was said to have told Obama: “I shook hands with (former US president George W.) Bush with this hand eight years ago. I want to be your friend.”

Obama responded by thanking Chavez, the official said.

US officials confirmed the encounter, but said Obama had simply presented himself to Chavez with a “How are you?” and left after shaking hands.

An opposition lawmaker on Sunday said Obama’s handling of the meeting confirmed conservatives’ concerns that the Democratic president would not be tough enough on the United States’ adversaries.

“I think it was irresponsible for the president to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez,” said Republican Senator John Ensign on CNN Sunday.

“This is a person who is one of the most anti-American leaders in the entire world,” Ensign said, calling Chavez “a brutal dictator”.

“When you’re talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you’re seeing joking around with,” he said.

Obama said he’d heard such criticisms throughout his campaign for the US presidency and dismissed them as nonsense.

“The whole notion was that somehow if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness,” he said.

“The American people didn’t buy it. And there’s a good reason the American people didn’t buy it, it doesn’t make sense.”

Newspapers around the world ran the photo of the handshake with speculation that the long antagonism between Washington and Caracas might be overcome.

But Sunday Obama downplayed his interaction with Chavez as not particularly unique, noting conversations with other US critics, including Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.

“I had meetings with all the leaders involved, including Ortega, who was the chair person of the Central American meeting,” he said.

“I had very cordial conversations with President Morales and I think it’s just that President Chavez is better at positioning the cameras,” he said.

‘Blue-eyed bankers’ to blame for crash, Lula tells Brown


Gordon Brown with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia. Photograph: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Guardian | Mar 26, 2009

by Nicholas Watt in Brasilia

White, blue-eyed bankers are entirely to blame for the world financial crisis that has ended up hitting black and indigenous people disproportionately, the president of Brazil declared.

In an outspoken intervention as Gordon Brown stood alongside him, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva pledged to make next week’s G20 summit “spicy” as he accused the rich of forcing the poor into greater hardship.

“This crisis was caused by no black man or woman or by no indigenous person or by no poor person,” Lula said after talks with the prime minister in Brasilia to discuss next week’s G20 summit in London.

“This crisis was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of some people that are white, blue-eyed. Before the crisis they looked like they knew everything about economics, and they have demonstrated they know nothing about economics.”

Challenged about his claims, Lula responded: “I only record what I see in the press. I am not acquainted with a single black banker.”

The remarks by Lula, a former trade union leader who had an impoverished upbringing in the poor north-east of Brazil, enlivened Brown’s five-day trip to North and South America. This is designed to pave the way for a global agreement on how to tackle the global downturn at next week’s G20 summit in London, to be chaired by Brown.

The prime minister travelled to Brazil, the world’s 10th largest economy, to talk up his latest initiative to stimulate world trade. Brown wants to win agreement at next week’s summit for a new $100bn global fund to increase credit flows.

Lula lavished praise on Brown for always rallying to the help of Brazil as he made clear that he accepts many of the prime minister’s interventionist ideas for stimulating global growth. But as they stood in the formal entrance to the president’s palace, Brown had to watch as the pugilistic former trade union leader embarked on one of his familiar tirades.

Lula said world leaders had to be prepared for a political fight to ensure no repeat of what Brown called the global financial “power cut”. “This meeting in London has to be a bit spicy because there has got to be a political debate,” said Lula. “I want a London consensus.”

The president indicated that he is uneasy about the US, which has been arguing that the most important measure to take is a further co-ordinated global fiscal stimulus. Lula used a colourful analogy to illustrate his demand for tougher regulation of financial markets.

“We do not have the right to allow this crisis to continue for long. We are determined to make sure the world financial system is vigorously regulated. You go to a shopping mall and you are filmed. You go to the airport and you are watched. I can’t imagine that only the financial system has no surveillance at all.”

The president then turned his fire on the media for demonising immigrants: “The great majority of the poor are still not getting their share of the development that was caused by globalisation. They are the first victims. I follow the press and I see that prejudice is a factor against immigrants in the most developed countries.”

The behaviour of developed countries contrasted badly, he added, with Brazil, which is a member of the “Bric” group of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China. “Here in Brazil, on the contrary, we have made the decision to permanently regulate thousands of Bolivians who were undocumented. We can’t put on their shoulder the responsibility for the crisis caused by very few people.”

Brown looked mildly uncomfortable during Lula’s outburst. He had hoped that their joint press conference would be dominated by his announcement that he will table plans at next week’s G20 summit in London for a new $100bn fund of credit guarantees to boost world trade.

The prime minister said: “The newest fallout from this banking crisis that has hit the world is the reduction in trade. Chinese exports are down 25%, Germany’s exports are down 20%, Japan’s exports are down more than 40%. So we have to act on trade as we are acting on banking reform and on economic growth.

“At the G20 next week we will debate further measures. Ninety per cent of all world trade is financed by credit. Credit has dried up dramatically in recent months, it has increased the costs of trade for businesses in every country. The international community cannot stand aside.”

Brazil proposes South American police force

Brazilian proposal for a Mercosur Police, Merpol

Merco Press | Mar 25, 2009

Brazil is sponsoring the creation of a Mercosur police force similar to Europol the security organization of the European Union which specializes in across-border crimes, revealed the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

Deputy Minister Luiz Paulo Barreto quoted by O Estado de Sao Paulo said that the new force “would be a kind of regional Interpol”.

Justice Minister Romeu Tuma Junior confirmed the news and justified the initiative arguing that is was essential to expand the reach of national Justice Departments.

“In the land border areas, people can commit a crime, cross the road and begin laughing about what they’ve done because they are at the other side and law enforcement organizations can’t intervene. We have to ensure legal mechanisms which ensure Justice can act effectively”, said Minister Tuma.

The Merpol idea will be officially presented during the next Mercosur summit scheduled for June in Asunción, Paraguay that currently holds the six month rotating chair. Allegedly Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, full members agree on principle to the idea.

Minister Tuma and his Deputy Barreto are currently in Lisbon, Portugal participating in a seminar on illegal immigration and trafficking with people.

Brazil last year promoted military defence coordination at continental level, in the framework of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur. The proposal finally crystallized in a South American Defence Council, of which all countries of the region are members.