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LATIN AMERICA | 11-03-2020 13:40

Uruguay withdraws from Unasur and suspends TIAR exit

Foreign policy shift under new leader Luis Lacalle Pou, whose government describes the Unasur bloc as "an organisation that in fact has ceased to function.”

Uruguay is withdrawing from the Unasur regional bloc, branding it "an organisation that in fact has ceased to function.”

The country will also return to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) agreement, otherwise known as the "Rio Treaty", the Foreign Ministry announced in a statement Tuesday.

The Uruguayan government, led by new leader Luis Lacalle Pou, has decided to withdraw from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), a bloc born in 2008 under the impulse of leftist administrations, in a key foreign policy shift. The statement said Unasur "has already been abandoned by most of the countries in the region except for Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.”

Most of the members of the bloc, which was once composed of 12 countries, left in 2018, mainly due to ideological differences. Among them were Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Argentina, which was then under the leadership of former president Mauricio Macri.

"This is a regional body, based on political-ideological alignments, which in fact no longer functions: it no longer has a headquarters and no operational secretariat general," the statement from Montevideo declared.

Another regional bloc is already springing up in its place, though its progress may have been checked by the change of government in Argentina. Officials from the Macri administration met with authorities representing Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and Chile in March 2019 to inaugurate the Forum for the Progress of the Americas (Prosur).

The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry's statement also confirmed Lacalle Pou had decided to suspend the country's withdrawal process of TIAR, which has more than 15 members across from the region and includes the United States. 

"With this measure, the country reinforces its historic commitment to the inter-American system," the release said.

Lacalle Pou, who took office on March 1 after 15 years of leftist Frente Amplio coalition rule, is backgracking on a September 2019 decision to leave the agreement, made by former president Tabaré Vázquez.

- TIMES/AFP

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