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USAN: Organism that disintegrates little by little

In a letter signed by six foreign ministers and sent to the chancellor of Bolivia, Fernando Huanacuni, a country that begins its pro tempore presidency, half of the members of the Union of South American Nations, USAN, make public and effective their temporary and indefinite suspension of membership in that organization . In this way, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru decide not to participate in its regular operation under the argument that "the conditions for taking decisions within the scope of USAN are not met".

Leer en español: UNASUR: Organismo que se desintegra poco a poco

The letter refers to the fact that the body is paralyzed by the constant lack of consensus. Which, makes the election of a Secretary General difficult. These countries accuse Venezuela and Bolivia of obstructing the advance in the election of the USAN leadership, leaving it headless and with problems in its functioning. In January 2017, the last Secretary General, Ernesto Samper, former Colombian president, left office without consensus to achieve a successor. Since 2014, the summit of heads of state that should happen every year is pending.

During the pro tempore presidency of Argentina, which just ended, President Mauricio Macri tried to fill that vacancy by proposing José Octavio Bordón, today Argentine ambassador to Chile, but this was denied by the boycott of Venezuela and Bolivia. They also make reference in the letter to attempts by the Argentine administration to articulate and coordinate the regional forums in order to avoid overlapping agendas, but which were also impeded.

The foreign ministers of the countries that withdraw from USAN put pressure on their Bolivian counterpart to achieve concrete results in the functioning of the organization, thus conditioning the return of their participation. It is necessary to clarify that, in addition to the membership, these countries suspend the payment of quotas to the organism, leaving it without much of its financing.

In this way, USAN lost half of its members, some of the most important ones, such as Brazil who was able to lead its formation, Chile who had the first pro tempore presidency with Michelle Bachelet showing a political waistline in the resolution of problems, or Argentina with the former president Néstor Kirchner as first Secretary General. The organization now has only six members: Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay, Guyana and Suriname.

What will happen and how will it affect you?

In this way, USAN is left with half of its members, immersed in acefalía and without financing. Which represents a huge blow to the existence of it. For the Bolivian pro tempore presidency, it represents a huge challenge, which will not be easy to solve considering the opposing views of some countries.

The countries that withdrew are part of the so-called Lima Group, which was made to put pressure on President Nicolás Maduro, and which also includes the United States and Canada. This is why Maduro speculated that the suspension of memberships is part of an American strategy to eliminate an organization they do not belong to.

It is true that many of the countries strengthened relations with the United States since the change of management. It is also true that two of the most important members entered into internal political and social crises that do not give them regional room for maneuver, such as Brazil and Venezuela. From Argentina, the secretary of strategic affairs, Fulvio Pompeo, declared that USAN "is an institution that forgot South America", from Venezuela responds President Maduro "Unasur deserves to be defended".

The UNASUR tour

USAN was born as an attempt by President Lula Da Silva to build an area of ​​influence in Brazil without the interference of the United States and, moreover, as a concerted process that moves away from the parameters of the OAS (Organization of American States). USAN succeeded the old Community of South American States and defined an era in a context marked by governments belonging to the 'left turn'.

He had active participation in solving problems such as:

  • The Bolivian crisis of August 2008 where there was unrestricted support for the government of Evo Morales, against the secessionist attempts of the so-called Media Luna (Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, Pando and Chuquisaca).
  • In 2009 they defended the constitutional order in Honduras after the coup against Zelaya, with almost one unit of actions by the members.
  • In 2009, the organization gathered in Bariloche declared the region a "Zone of Peace" in clear pressure to the Colombian government against the installation of US military bases.
  • During the break-up of relations between Colombia and Venezuela in 2010, Secretary General Kirchner between the two achieved a declaration that resumed bilateral relations.
  • In the attempt to hit Rafael Correa, in that same year, they also opted for the defense of democracy by establishing a clause that allows pressure measures in situations of democratic rupture.
  • In 2012 the organization condemned the political trial of President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and excluded the country from the organization.
  • In 2014, he tried to mediate between Venezuela and the rest of the countries in order to obtain a path of peaceful dialogue.

Until that year, USAN was efficient in resolving some significant political events in the region. Since then he has limited himself to participate as an observer in the electoral processes. After the death of Hugo Chávez, the exit of the government of Dilma Rousseff and the end of the mandate of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, USAN began a process of stagnation. The changes of sign in the South American governments also collaborated, changing the regional conjuncture, and dividing countries between those who continued with the 'turn to the left' and those who turned to the right.



Latin American Post | Jonathan Carné

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