Marco Aurélio Garcia, Brazil’s foreign affairs advisor, said that the breaking of relations between Venezuela and Colombia “weakens” South America and negotiations to bring both sides together should not be seen as a confrontation between UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) and OAS (Organization of American States).
“We’re not looking for a scapegoat. We are concerned because this debilitates South America, which has as its great triumph and merit the fact it is a region of peace and we don’t want anything contributing to tarnish such an image,” said Garcia, president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s main political advisor in an interview with the influential daily O Estado de S. Paulo.
Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with Colombia following on Bogota’s claims that the administration of President Hugo Chavez is tolerant with FARC guerrillas camping in Venezuelan territory.
President Lula is scheduled to visit Caracas August 6 where he is to meet President Chavez and the following day will be present in Bogota at the taking office ceremony of Colombian president-elect Juan Manuel Santos.
Garcia also rejected any competition between UNASUR and OAS, or any attempt to impose one over the other as a mechanism to solve the dispute.
“We don’t want to favor Venezuela or Colombia. We’re after an agreement and it would be excellent if we had distension signals before Santos takes office,” said Marco Aurélio Garcia.
Similarly both multilateral organizations (UNASUR and OAS) are very capable of addressing the issue, but “we think that UNASUR, given that most presidents will be meeting in Bogota” could be more expeditious in these circumstances.
However it is also a fact that South American nations led by Brazil would like the issue to be solved with the less interference possible from Washington, given the sensitivity of the dispute.
United States is not a member of UNASUR and the OAS is seated at Washington.