Published 05/31/2023 16:22 | Edited 5/31/2023 5:06 PM
The twelve South American leaders gathered in Brasilia this Tuesday (30) released, at the end of the meeting, a document in which they reaffirm common values and agree to deepen discussions on the creation or reestablishment of some cooperation mechanism involving all countries. Of region. The commitment appears in the publication called the Consensus of Brasilia, released by the chancelleries.
The letter reveals that there is a consensus on the need for regional integration, but not on the institutional architecture that would house this multilateral organization. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended a reform of Unasur as this starting point. However, faced with disagreements around this proposal, especially on the part of countries governed by the right (Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador), he proposed opening a debate on suggestions.
“And you don’t have to start from scratch. Unasur is a collective asset. Let us remember that it is in effect and seven countries are still full members. It is important to resume its construction process, but, in doing so, it is essential to critically assess what did not work and take these lessons into account,” said Lula, yesterday, before listening to the partners. Uruguay prefers to continue making multilateral agreements in isolation.
Unasur, created in 2008, during President Lula’s second term, is seen as an ideological body by right-wing governments that created Prosul as an alternative. Unasur has been disintegrating over time, amidst changes of government in several countries, and now brings together only seven of the 12 governments: Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, Peru, in addition to Argentina and Brazil that recently returned to the group.
Divided into nine points, the letter says that the presidents “agreed that regional integration must be part of the solutions to face” the various challenges that currently affect the world. They also “recognized the importance of maintaining a regular dialogue, with the purpose of boosting the integration process in South America and projecting the region’s voice in the world”.
The signatories propose a broader discussion on concrete forms of cooperation around a permanent group, yet to be defined. “They decided to establish a contact group, led by the chancellors, to evaluate the experiences of the South American integration mechanisms and to prepare a road map for the integration of South America, to be submitted to the consideration of the Heads of State.”
According to Lula, after the meeting, this group of foreign ministers should present a proposal in about four months. “This group that was created, of chancellors, has 120 days to present, in a next meeting [de presidentes]the proposals they intend to complete,” he said in a statement to journalists.
Earlier, in his speech, Lula defended the resumption of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur). Created in 2008, in President Lula’s second term, and amid the rise of center-left governments, the group came to bring together all the countries in the region, but it disintegrated over time, after changes in governments in several countries, and now brings together only seven: Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and Peru, in addition to Argentina and Brazil, which recently returned to the group.
The resumption of Unsaul, however, is not a consensus among leaders in the region. “We have to stop this tendency: the creation of organizations. We are going to be based on actions”, said the president of Uruguay, Luís Lacalle Pou, in a speech at the summit. “When it was up to us to take over the government, we withdrew from Unasur. Then they invited us to Prosul [bloco criado em 2019 em contraponto à Unasul], and we said no. Because otherwise we end up being ideological clubs that have life and continuity only as long as we march with our ideologies”, added the Uruguayan.
For other presidents, however, Unasur has the potential to articulate actions in different areas. “This mechanism of dialogue and political concertation had the great value of uniting us and opening up the possibility of a multidimensional regional construction in several matters, such as defense, security, democracy, human rights, infrastructure, energy, among others”, highlighted the president of the Bolivia, Luis Arce.
The Brasilia Consensus also registers “the common vision that South America constitutes a region of peace and cooperation, based on dialogue and respect for the diversity of our peoples, committed to democracy and human rights, sustainable development and social justice, the rule of law and institutional stability, the defense of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs”.
Elsewhere, the document lists topics such as the climate crisis, threats to international peace and security, pressure on food and energy chains, the risk of new pandemics, increased social inequalities and threats to institutional and democratic stability as the problems and challenges Of region.
Still on integration, the letter cites the strengthening of democracy, fighting discrimination, promoting gender equality, orderly, safe and regular management of migrations as other challenges common to South American countries. The Brasilia Consensus cites the commitment of countries to work towards increasing trade and investments, improving infrastructure and logistics, strengthening regional value chains, applying trade facilitation measures and financial integration, overcoming of asymmetries, the elimination of unilateral measures and access to markets through a network of economic complementation agreements.
Read the full statement by the Heads of State and Government
Brasilia Consensus – May 30, 2023
1. At the invitation of the President of Brazil, the leaders of the South American countries met in Brasilia, on May 30, 2023, to exchange points of view and perspectives for cooperation and integration in South America.
2. They reaffirmed the common vision that South America constitutes a region of peace and cooperation, based on dialogue and respect for the diversity of our peoples, committed to democracy and human rights, sustainable development and social justice, the State of law and institutional stability, defense of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs.
3. They coincided in that the world faces multiple challenges, in a scenario of climate crisis, threats to peace and international security, pressures on food and energy chains, risks of new pandemics, increasing social inequalities and threats to institutional and democratic stability.
4. They agreed that regional integration must be part of the solutions to face the shared challenges of building a peaceful world; the strengthening of democracy; the promotion of economic and social development; the fight against poverty, hunger and all forms of inequality and discrimination; the promotion of gender equality; the orderly, safe and regular management of migrations; tackling climate change, including through innovative mechanisms for financing climate action, among which could be considered the ‘swap’, by developed countries, of debt for climate action; promoting the ecological and energy transition, based on clean energies; strengthening health capacities; and combating transnational organized crime.
5. They pledged to work to increase trade and investment among the countries of the region; improving infrastructure and logistics; the strengthening of regional value chains; the application of trade facilitation and financial integration measures; overcoming asymmetries; the elimination of unilateral measures; and access to markets through a network of economic complementation agreements, including within the Aladi framework [Associação Latino-Americana de Integração]with the goal of an effective South American free trade area.
6. They recognized the importance of maintaining a regular dialogue, with the purpose of boosting South America’s integration process and projecting the region’s voice in the world.
7. They decided to establish a contact group, led by the Chancellors, to evaluate the experiences of the South American integration mechanisms and to prepare a road map for the integration of South America, to be submitted to the consideration of the Heads of State.
8. They agreed to promote, from now on, South American cooperation initiatives, with a social and gender focus, in areas that concern the immediate needs of citizens, in particular vulnerable people, including indigenous peoples, such as health, food security, food systems based on traditional agriculture, environment, water resources, natural disasters, infrastructure and logistics, energy interconnection and clean energies, digital transformation, defence, security and border integration, combating transnational organized crime and cybersecurity.
9. They agreed to meet again, at a date and place to be determined, to review the progress of South American cooperation initiatives and determine the next steps to be taken.