By Carlos Prado
28 May 2008
Last Friday, May 23, presidents and representatives of 12 South American countries met in Brasilia to sign a treaty creating the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur.
The proposal to create Unasur was first presented during an annual regional meeting in the Peruvian city of Cuzco in 2004. Initially, the proposal was called Casa (the Spanish acronym for South American Community of Nations), but it was subsequently re-baptized during the First South American Energy Summit held in Venezuela last year.
Unasur is to function with a temporary and rotating presidency. Currently, the presidency has been handed to Bolivia. It was to have gone to Colombia, which turned down the offer, and instead will pass to Chile. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced that her government would only accept the role based on a consensus of all 12 of the treaty’s signatories.
What are Unasur’s objectives?
One of the treaty’s principal objectives is to develop political, economic and social coordination between the South American states. The stated aim is to use Unasur to adopt joint financial mechanisms and even advance regional fiscal, energy and telecommunications integration, as well as joint projects in the areas of science and education. According to Itamaraty (Brazil’s foreign ministry), Unasur’s objectives are “the strengthening of political dialogue between member states and the deepening of regional integration.”
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