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The president of Colombia seeks to create a regional body that seeks the "defense of democracy"
Iván Duque, president of Colombia, proposes the creation of an inter-South American agency that will serve as a counterweight to Unasur in the region. In the company of the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, Duque seeks the establishment of a platform for multilateralism and the guarantee for democratic freedoms.
Leer en español: Prosur: ¿qué esperar de la propuesta de Iván Duque?
In an interview with the radio station Oye Cali, the Colombian president said: "[With Sebastián Piñera] we have been advancing in that end of Unasur and the creation of Prosur, which is more than a bureaucratic organization or at the service of a particular government, South American coordination mechanism."
What is Unasur and why is it in crisis?
The Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, is an international organization that seeks the regional integration of the sovereign states of South America. Established in 2008, under the impulse of the deceased Hugo Chávez and Néstor Kirchner, he tried to link the work of Mercosur and the Andean Community.
Some of the projects that Unasur has developed are the Interoceanic Highway between Peru, Bolivia and Brazil; the binational pipeline between Colombia and Venezuela; as well as areas of free transit and partial work among some member countries. However, this integration has been slow and has had few successes.
After his possession as agent, one of the first acts in the international scene of Iván Duque was the withdrawal of Unasur. As Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Paraguay have also moved away from the body, under the pretext of the current situation in Venezuela and the difficulty of choosing a head for the body.
According to the agency EFE, the reason for the departure of Colombia from Unasur is because it "has not denounced the brutal treatment of the Venezuelan State towards the citizens of that country." For its part, La Nación de Argentina explains that some members think that the blockade of some decisions by Venezuela and Bolivia also contribute to the unfeasibility of the succession of the presidency of the body.
Similarly, in the past Unasur has been identified ideologically with the new Latin American left, led by Hugo Chavez and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. It is understandable that the current governments of the region, oriented to the right, have the urgency to create a replacement for the agency, which is not compromised with populist ideological lines. However, there is no reason to be deceived, because a nationalist movement like Bolsonaro's in Brazil could produce the same effects in a hypothetical new South American multilateral organization.
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What can a proposal like Prosur offer?
In the first instance, a regional integration body does not spare South America. The fact that Unasur was the attempt to join the efforts of Mercosur and the Andean Community, shows how much Prosur or a similar one could benefit for the development of South America.
Unions like these make the member countries more competitive, they allow to share their identity as South Americans while they can export their own with freedom among their neighbors. As in the past, international infrastructure, education and development projects can be carried out to strengthen ties between member countries. Citizens could benefit from working and living conditions by being able to cross the borders of their own countries to others with freedom.
There are many possibilities that these organizations offer, but we must also bear in mind that sometimes they are ineffective, as it proved to be Unasur. As in the European Union, fiscal policies do not depend on national governments but on continental institutions. A hypothetical fiscal functioning organization similar to that of the EU could coerce the fiscal freedom of the national states.
The challenges that a multilateral organization presents are complex. No doubt there are benefits but it is necessary first to achieve a platform of mutual agreements, which can take years. In the same way, we must take care of the politicization of it, because they must be scenarios to strengthen democracy and not deformations of it.
LatinAmerican Post | Iván Parada Hernández
Translated from "Prosur: ¿qué esperar de la propuesta de Iván Duque?"