UnaSur, the South America Union, Is Born Today in Brazil

South America countries Leaders of South America are scheduled to meet this Friday, May 23, in Brazil for a summit. During the encounter the visiting heads of government and host Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be signing the legal framework of the charter for the Union of South American Nations, UnaSur.

Originally identified as the South American Community of Nations, it was first conceived in 2005 in Cuzco, Peru, during a regional leaders' summit.

UnaSur is made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Bolivia.

The leaders of all member countries have confirmed their assistance to Brasí­lia with the exception of Uruguay and Peru that will be represented by the vice president and the Foreign Affairs minister, respectively.

The blueprint of the charter was worked out earlier in the month in a technical meeting in Venezuela. However once signed "since it is a treaty," according to Brazilian diplomatic sources, the charter must be considered and approved by the different legislative branches.

A "transition period" until the full legitimate formality has been achieved will also be discussed, "although it's not central to Friday's agenda," added Brazilian diplomatic sources.

Another issue on the table is the Brazilian initiative for the creation of a South American Defense Council, with the purpose of coordinating defense policies in the region and work towards a common understanding on the matter.

Brazilian Defense minister Nelson Jobim last month visited most countries in the region to discuss the proposal with local officials from the Executive branch and legislative Defense committees.

"It's more ambitious than a military alliance, it's a forum to discuss and agree on common defense policies," said Jobim. The proposal was well received in most countries but Uruguay asked for more time to consider the concept.

UnaSur was scheduled to meet in January in Colombia but was delayed for March and then indefinitively because of the conflict between Colombia and Ecuador triggered when the incursion of Colombian forces in Ecuadorian border territory to eliminate a guerrilla camp.



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