Saturday, May 24, 2008

South American Union Signed into Existence

The Union of South American Nations, Unasur, was born Friday. The leaders of the 12 member nations signed a treaty creating continental economic, military, and governmental entity modeled on the European Union. The treaty establishes a South American parliament in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The signing nations must now ratify the treaty in their home governing bodeis.

Chile’s Michelle Bachelet was chosen as the first president of the Union of South American Nations which was formally founded on Friday in Brasilia when the leaders of its twelve country members signed the constitutional charter.

The Unasur rotating chair “is a great honor for Chile and recognition to the country’s and Ms Bachelet dedication to integration”, said Chilean Foreign Affairs minister Alejandro Foxley.

"Unasur will give us a louder voice in world affairs" and is a potent mechanism for integration, said Ms Bachelet on accepting the nomination. "The time for rhetoric integration is over, now we need concrete, practical decisions that our peoples value and can see every day. The first seal we are going to stamp to this new beginning is that of social affairs," promised the Chilean president.

"The fact President Bachelet was named is a reward for her enormous contribution in the last year and a half to pave the way for the signing of the Unasur charter," added Foxley.

"We want physical integration. It’s not possible that to fly from Santiago to Brasilia one must spend a whole day jumping from airport to airport. We must conclude the bi-oceanic corridors. President Bachelet reaffirmed presidents Lula da Silva and Morales commitment to finish by the end of 2009 the highway that will link the port of Santos on the Atlantic with Arica and Iquique on the north of Chile after crossing Bolivia."

Foxley downplayed tensions of the opening meeting saying that "when there’s a real integration determination and spirit, and I believe all presidents have that determination, through dialogue we can address possible differences."

Leaders present at the signing of the constitutional charter for Unasur included besides Chile’s Bachelet and Brazil’s Lula da Silva; Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner; Alan Garcia from Peru; Alvaro Uribe from Colombia; Hugo Chavez, Venezuela, Rafael Correa, Ecuador; Evo Morales, Bolivia; Nicanor Duarte Frutos, Paraguay; Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo; Surinam, Ronald Venetiaan and vice-president Rodolfo Nin Novoa from Uruguay.
The treaty signed Friday was supposed to have been signed in March, but the military altercation between Venezuela and Colombia delayed unification. The tension still exists between the two nations threatening the success of union. In Bolivia, the landowners, entrepreneurs, and merchants held an autonomy referendum because President Evo Morales intends to take control of private companies and redistribute lands to the poor indigenous people. The referendum passed, but the national government and the rest of South America refused to recognize the results placing more strain on the future of the treaty.

With the rising support of Marxist theory and antagonisms between member states, the future of Unasur is probably dead on arrival. But the same was thought of the European Union 30 years ago. The region's economic condition makes this an ideal time for unification, but leaders like Chavez of Venezuela and Morales of Bolivia wanting to use the Unasur to offset the influence of the United States while Chile and Brazil prosper in their economic relationships with the US, and Colombia's increasing dependence on US arms in their war against the guerrillas, makes success very unlikely. Nonetheless, the Union joins the world as an economic bloc with a gross national product of almost $2 trillion, one of the world's largest untapped oil fields, and a functioning alternative fuel system. If Unasur can get their act together, they will be a power in world affairs.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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