At the end of the summit held this Tuesday in Brasilia in which the Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro stole the spotlight and again generated discrepancies, the South American presidents managed to agree on a declaration in which they promised to design a road m for supervision greater regional integration,
In the document, which was an expression of good intentions, The heads of state recognized the importance of maintaining a regular dialogue to promote collaboration and project the voice of the region in the world.
The meeting was convened and headed by the President of Brazil Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva, who is committed to retake leadership in the region after his return to power for the third time at the beginning of the year.
The presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Uruguay, Suriname and Venezuela also attended. On behalf of Peru, Alberto Otarola, president of the Council of Ministers, attended.
The document was sealed after several hours of discussion and after several leaders made public their questions against the populist Venezuelan leader, on whose government they weigh multiple complaints of human rights violations.
Maduro did not want to enter that debate in depth and at the end of the meeting he told journalists that “a respectful, tolerant dialogue, unity in diversity” prevailed.
The Uruguayan president, the right-wing Luis Lacalle Pou, had previously criticized the Venezuelan government in a message he posted on his Instagram account during the plenary session of heads of state. He maintained that in Venezuela there are many groups “trying to mediate so that there is full democracy, for human rights, so that there are no political prisoners.”
The message was released when the closed-door debate between the leaders was taking place at the Itamaraty Palace.
Lacalle Pou also questioned that the summit was preceded the day before by a bilateral meeting between Brazil and Venezuela in which Lula showed totally in favor of the Venezuelan leader, calling it “absurd” that some governments do not recognize him as the president duly elected by his people.
The same critical position was expressed by the Chilean Gabriel Boric, who, although he was glad that Venezuela was returning to multilateral instances, stressed that this was not means “to turn a blind eye” against complaints of human rights violations.
In this regard, Boric said that he expressed his discrepancy with what Lula indicated after his meeting with Maduro about the questioning of the Venezuelan government being “a narrative construction.”
“They are not a narrative construction; It is a serious reality and I have been able to see it in the eyes and the pain of hundreds of Venezuelans who are in our homeland who demand a firm position regarding the fact that human rights must be respected always and everywhere, regardless of the political color of the ruler on duty”, Boric affirmed.
Despite his criticism, the Chilean president stated that reject the sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the United States and the European Union and asked that they be lifted.
Strengthen ties, a necessity
Pablo Ibanez, a professor of geopolitics at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, said it was urgent for Lula to strengthen ties with Venezuela, partly because of the border they share and the need to deal with Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
But you may have gone too far in your embrace to the Maduro government, Ibanez said.
The president of Argentina, the Peronist Alberto Fernandez, also held a meeting with Maduro in the framework of the regional meeting and asked him for Venezuela to return to international organizations and forums.
After the meeting, the Argentine government said that it should be agreed a road m with the ruling party and the opposition of Venezuela “Where work is done on the guarantees for the 2024 electoral process.”
He also highlighted the need for the sanctions imposed on Venezuela to be lifted.
Lula: “A historic moment”
On Monday at a press conference between Lula and Maduro, the Brazilian president said that this was a “historical moment” for both countries. Both rulers expressed interest in boosting trade between their countries.
Discrepancies also surfaced at the summit regarding the suitability of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) as a forum for regional collaboration after its practical dissolution due to ideological differences that persist among the countries of the subcontinent.
The final document does not mention said forum, which had 12 members and Today it only welcomes seven: Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Suriname and Guyana.
Brazil and Argentina this year rejoined the bloc that the two countries helped establish in 2008 along with other nations then ruled by leftist or center-left forces.
Lula’s predecessor, the right-wing Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), had distanced himself from Unasur, the same as other conservative leaders who They considered it useless and destined to shelter populism in Venezuela.
Lula stated in his opening speech at the summit that there should be no preconceived ideas about the institutional design that the South American countries could adopt and that what should prevail is a space “that allows us to discuss regularly and guide actions towards strengthening the integration”.
The leaders finally agreed in the declaration establish a “contact group”led by the foreign ministers of the twelve countries gathered, to evaluate “the experiences of the integration mechanisms” and the preparation of a road m “that will be submitted to the consideration of the Heads of State.”
a new meeting
They agreed to meet again, at a date and place to be determined.
During the Brasilia meeting, the Brazilian president tried to get around the different positions by urging his guests to iron out the rough edges after years of disagreements, many of them ideologically rooted.
not to the dollar
He said the group should discuss creating a currency for challenge the hegemony of the US dollar, forge a common energy market, fight against climate change and collaborate in the defense and security of the region.
Lula highlighted the region’s potential. “The combined GDP of our countries is expected to reach four trillion dollars this year. Together we are the fifth world economy. With a population of almost 450 million inhabitants, we constitute an important consumer market”.
The definition of an agenda of objectives also ran into the different needs of countries, some of which suffer political and economic crises. Left and center-left forces rule in most of the nations and the right is in power in other o pears as a political alternative.
This was revealed in May by the success of the right-wingers in Chile in the vote to elect those in charge of drafting a new Constitution. A similar shift to the right is possible in Argentina.where Fernandez will not stand for re-election in October in a context of accelerated inflation.
The journalists of The Associated Press Carla Bridi in Brazil, Carlos Valdez in Bolivia, Eva Vergara in Chile, Frankin Briceno in Peru; Guillermo Garat in Uruguay, Jorge Rueda in Venezuela, and Gonzalo Solano in Ecuador contributed to this report.