Chile’s Piñera eyes new regional ‘Prosur’ bloc to replace Unasur
Chile President Sebastián Piñera confirmed this week that his nation will organise a summit of regional presidents in March with a view to creating a new South American forum that will exclude Venezuela.
Chile’s Prosur initiative could
replace the unsuccessful Union
of South American Nations
(Unasur), which has been practically without activity for three
years, Piñera confirmed.
“In the month of March we
will have a meeting of presidents
in our country to give impetus to
the Prosur project, which is a
forum for the development of
South America,” Piñera said at
a press conference at the La Moneda palace on Tuesday.
The presidents of Argentina,
Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile,
Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay,
Peru, Guyana and Suriname are
invited to this meeting.
The Chilean president explained that Prosur will be a body
“without ideologies or bureaucracy” that will strengthen the
economic integration and build
strong trade relationships between countries in the region.
But he clarified that only nations that fulfil requirements
such as “the full validity of democracy, the rule of law, and full
respect for human rights and
freedoms,” may become members of the proposed Prosur
“You may note that only Venezuela is excluded, because Venezuela does not comply” with the
requirements, said Piñera.
The new regional organisation began to take shape last
week in a meeting on “South
American integration” in which
representatives of all the nations of the zone participated,
with the exception of Venezuela, in Chile.
International analyst Andre
Serbin Pont told the Times it was
unclear exactly what direction
Prosur would take, given
Piñera’s preliminary comments.
“At the moment it seems closer to a high-level forum than an
international organisation — so
did Unasur too, in its beginnings,” Pont, the director of the
Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES), told the Times.
Pont explained that Prosur
seemed to be more about replacing the fractured Unasur bloc
at present, rather than pushing
in any new direction.
“The focus of Prosur emphasises coordination in public policy, the defence of democracy
and the market economy, and is
presented as an organisation
that will not be at the service of
any particular country,” Pont
Unasur began operating in
2011 under the wing of the majority of leftist presidents who
were governing at that time in
South America, among them
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil) and Hugo Chávez (Venezuela). The bloc was left leaderless
with the departure of former
Secretary General Ernesto
Samper in 2017. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay
and Peru suspended their participation soon after.
“Unasur has failed because of
its excess of ideology and bureaucracy and has not achieved
any result (...) Prosur will not be
an ideological forum like Unasur was,” Piñera said of the
group’s recent demise.
Local media reports this week
suggested that President Mauricio Macri and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro would give
their support to Prosur.
Pont said that the support of
these leaders will be critical to
Prosur’s success, and the direction of relations in the regions.
“It will be key to keep an eye
on Brazil’s posture towards Prosur, as less than two months
into [President Jair] Bolsonaro’s
presidency, the main priorities
of his administration’s foreign
policy still seems unclear, particularly regarding regional processes,” Pont told the Times.