The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) has become an international legal entity after Uruguay and Colombia recently ratified the organization’s Constitutive Treaty. With the approval of these two states, Unasur achieved the number of required countries and its treaty came into force.
Unasur was formed in 2008 with the aim of integrating the Mercosur customs union and trade bloc and the Andean Community of Nations as part of a continuing process of South American integration. So far, twelve countries have joined Unasur with the official commitment to support democratic systems across the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela. Only Brasilia and Asuncion are yet to formally ratify the treaty.
Far beyond the regional integration, Unasur seeks to spread and implement across its member states such values as social justice, social inclusion, solidarity, cooperation, peace culture, identity and complete respect to democratic systems and universal human rights, according to the Union’s representatives.
Despite many conflicts and divisions within Latin America, Unasur’s uncertainty disappeared on March 11, 2011, when the entity held an extraordinary summit in Mitad del Mundo (which is located next to Ecuador’s capital city: Quito), which was described by the Ecuadorian chancellor Ricardo Patiño as a “dream come true. The South American countries, which had been separated for so long, were unified in such a short period of time. This is amazing!”
Corporate and alternative media across South America, and with different political ideologies, covered the summit which not only welcomed the organization as an international legal entity, but also inaugurated the beginning of the construction of Unasur’s headquarters in Mitad del Mundo.
The summit was covered by international news agencies and ended up with the representatives’ agreement to appoint a new general secretary, after the death of the former secretary, Néstor Kirchner, in 2010. The former Colombian chancellor, María Emma Mejia, and the Venezuelan Energy ministry, Alí Rodríguez, will share the post for the next two years.
Beyond South the American media, the summit seemed to be ignored by the media from Spain and other Western countries, according to the report of the Spanish Federation of Journalists (FeSP). “Although the Spanish media decided to tiptoe around this event, Unasur’s inaugural ceremony was much more than an extraordinary meeting of Ministries. With more than 2,000 attendants, the event was held to lay the foundation stone of the Union’s headquarters”.
Although during those days several articles about Latin American current affairs were published, the Western media did not pay attention to this international summit or the support given by Unasur to the Japanese people after the earthquake and tsunami disasters. Surprisingly, the lack of coverage nearly coincides with the first visit of Barack Obama to Latin America, where the role of Unasur and the Organization of American States were certainly key issues to discuss.
It is clear to the journalist from the United Press Agency that Unasur will strengthen its role as a political and strategic force to reckon with in Latin America, and with the European Union always in the background as the ultimate model to copy. However, Unasur’s plans to form a regional defense body (CDS) and a central bank (Banco del Sur) seem to have different aims. According to the Ecuadorian chancellor Ricardo Patiño, the main role for the new regional financial institution is to develop several programs to improve health, education and energy creation.
From a Western conservative media point of view, all these projects are clearly a menace to the neoliberal hegemony, given that most Unasur countries are ruled by “openly socialist despots”, “former leftist terrorists” and “extremist statists”, according to Alex Newman’s report for The New American.
The Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa remarked what many analysts seem to see behind Unasur’s historical success: “In this time of change in the region, with everyone, with the strength of a continent that wakes up, we are finally going to achieve our second and ultimate independence”.
Sources from South America:
Diana Holguin, “Miembros de Unasur celebran tratado constitutivo” (Members of Unasur celebrate its constitutive treaty) March 11, 2011, http://www.cre.com.ec/Desktop.aspx?Id=143&e=150007
El Mundo, “Colombia en Unasur” (Colombia in Unasur), March 14, 2011, http://www.elmundo.com/portal/opinion/editorial/colombia_en_unasur.php
El Universal, “Entra en vigencia tratado de Unasur” (Unasur treaty comes into effect), March 11, 2011, http://www.eluniversal.com/2011/03/11/entra-en-vigencia-tratado-de-unasur.shtml
Karol Assunção, “Cancilleres celebran entrada en vigencia del Tratado Constitutivo de Unasur” (Chancellors celebrate the coming into effect of Unasur Constitutive treaty) March 14, 2011,
Stabroek news, “Unasur Treaty now in operation”, March 16, 2011, http://www.stabroeknews.com/2011/news/stories/03/16/unasur-treaty-now-in-operation/
TeleSur, “Unasur celebra con alegría entrada en vigencia de Tratado Constitutivo” (Unasur happily celebrates the coming into effect of its Constitutive Treaty), March 10, 2011, http://www.telesurtv.net/secciones/entrevistas/90070-NN/unasur-celebra-con-alegria-entrada-en-vigencia-de-tratado-constitutivo/
Sources from Western countries:
Alex Newman, “South American Union selects socialist leaders.” March 21, 2011, http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/world-mainmenu-26/south-america-mainmenu-37/6786-south-american-union-selects-socialist-leaders
El Mundo, “Correa dice que Sudamérica va hacia la ‘segunda y definitiva’ independencia” (Correa says South America is heading towards the ‘second and ultimate’ independence), March 11, 2011, http://www.elmundo.es/america/2011/03/11/noticias/1299864100.html
Europa Press, “La sede permanente de Unasur llevará el nombre de Néstor Kirchner” (Unasur’s permanent headquarters will be named Néstor Kirchner), March 9, 2011,
Federación Española de Sindicatos de Periodistas, “Constituida Unasur” (Unasur is constituted), March 15, 2011, http://www.fesp.org/noticias2.php?id=1442
Ray Walser, “Obama’s visit to Latin America: Democracy, Trade and Security First”, The Heritage Foundation, March 17, 2011, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/03/Obamas-Visit-to-Latin-America-Democracy-Trade-and-Security-First
United Press International, “Unasur pushes for consolidation expansion in Latin America,” March 11, 2011, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/03/11/UNASUR-pushes-for-consolidation-expansion-in-Latin-America/UPI-33621299877191/
La Verdad, “La Unasur inicia su primera reunión de cancilleres con el tratado en vigor” (Unasur holds its first meeting of Chancellors after the treaty came into effect), March 11, 2011,
Alberto Ardèvol Abreu (University of La Laguna)
Ciro Enrique Hernández Rodríguez (University of La Laguna)
Cruz Alberto Martínez Arcos (University of London)
Samuel Toledano (University of La Laguna)
José Manuel de Pablos Coello and José Manuel Pestano Rodríguez (University of La Laguna)