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Statement: UNASUR must be used to strengthen the integration of South America

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Hemispheric Social Alliance | 2008-05-29

(Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa in 2015 for

Statement: UNASUR must be used to strengthen the integration of South America

South America is divided as a result of the economic, political and military ambitions of the imperial US and transnational corporations of the Big Powers.

This situation has worsened conflicts between our nations because of differences between governments aligned with Washington and those with nationalist plans that seek to defeat neoliberalism.

The US, with the unconditional support of the governments of Alvaro Uribe and Alan Garcia, has carried out a strategy to divide us, a strategy that has threatened fracturing our nations and shattering the unitary processes that have been built up and consolidated for decades.

In this difficult political context, the South American people hope that the proposed UNASUR will strengthen integration for the benefit of communities and not promote the model of exporting raw materials and basic goods, extracting natural resources, promoting agro-fuels and unsustainable energy systems that keeps millions of people in poverty and hunger.

In the founding declaration there are hopeful signs that reflect support for multilateralism, the preservation and defence of national sovereignty, integration at all levels, people’s well-being, lowering inequalities and strengthening democracy, as well as a social agenda that seeks to overcome imbalances, to establish a South American citizenship and to recognise ethnic and cultural diversity. However, it leaves unresolved burning issues as to how different mechanisms of integration at the subregional level will be incorporated into the process.

The founding treaty that was signed in Brazil on 23 May 2008 provides that UNASUR membership will depend on each country’s progress and political realities and at the same time proposes a common participation in international fora that will be very difficult given the different issues. It talks of eradicating poverty, defending biodiversity, integration and cooperation, but what the continent’s neoliberal governments do on a daily basis is a complete contradiction of this. How can we talk of South American unity in this way?

As social organisations, we see in UNASUR the potential to a create an independent area with the participation of society, that serves to tackle the real problems of our people. However, it is troubling that this process is moving forward behind the backs of our people, the key beneficiaries of the project, without information, consultations or any participation. Calls to question the neoliberal model that many governments promote go unanswered, and the agreements have not established priorities so that human rights obligations come to the fore. We also lack mechanisms to prevent South America’s participation in the international division of labour from being unfair. We, the social organisations and popular movements of South America, demand a genuine role in the decisions made regarding how UNASUR is designed and rolled out.

At the same time that we see the opportunity to test out alternative mechanisms for integration, we call upon the people of the continent to fight for the structural changes required for development.

Hemispheric Social Alliance
28 May 2008

 source: HSA