South American leaders launch new regional body
The presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru gathered here Friday to sign the Declaration of Santiago, proclaiming the creation of a new body to promote South American regional integration: Prosur.
Prosur aims “to build and consolidate a regional space of coordination and cooperation, without exclusions, to advance toward more effective integration,” according to the text signed at La Moneda palace by the seven heads of state and a senior diplomat from Guyana.
The deputy foreign ministers of Bolivia and Uruguay and an envoy from Suriname were present for the occasion as observers and those nations will have the option of joining Prosur as the process develops.
To qualify for admission to Prosur, a country must have a functioning, constitutional democracy, observe “the principle of the separation of powers” and show a commitment to “promotion, protection, respect for and guarantee of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” in the words of the declaration.
Prosur is intended to have “a flexible, light and inexpensive structure, with clear rules of operation and with an agile decision-making mechanism that permits us to move South America forward in concrete integration programs.”
Infrastructure, energy, health, defense and security, crime-fighting, and prevention and management of natural disasters were cited as priorities for the new organization.
Chile will assume the rotating presidency of Prosur for the first 12 months, to be followed by Paraguay.
“Prosur will be a forum open to all the countries of South America, a forum without ideology that will respect the diversity and the differences that each people decides as they elect their governments, a forum without excessive bureaucracy and a pragmatic forum that will pursue results,” Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said following the signing ceremony.
The new body will likewise maintain a “firm and clear commitment to democracy and to respect for the human rights of all the inhabitants of South America,” he said, accompanied by his counterparts from Argentina, Mauricio Macri; Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro; Colombia, Ivan Duque; Ecuador, Lenin Moreno; Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benitez; and Peru, Martin Vizcarra.