The foreign ministers of Ecuador and Argentina, Jose Valencia and Jorge Fraurie, highlighted the need to reactivate the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) during a meeting on Tuesday, according to a statement by Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry.
Ecuador: Social Groups, International Delegations Defend Unasur
Valencia and Fraurie discussed the matter in a bilateral encounter in Paraguay, as they attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Mario Abdo Benitez.
"Both ministers reaffirmed the excellent diplomatic and friendship relationship between Ecuador and Argentina and reinforced the commitment for the strengthening of bilateral relations in positive circumstances," reads Ecuador’s statement.
Regarding the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), Valencia stressed the necessity of strengthening it through political dialogue aimed at empowering the region.
The ministers also reviewed the invitation for the president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, to visit Argentina in the near future.
The Ecuadorean foreign minister was recently asked about the Unasur situation by news outlet El Telegrafo, to which he answered the union’s crisis was the result of a lack of agreement between the member states.
"Ecuador is a promoter of regional integration and has taken a series of actions so the crisis can be overcomed," Valencia answered. "I have spoken with the ministers to look for a solution. The crisis concerns us… the country will try to avoid the disappearance of Unasur."
Valencia also said that Unasur’s building, a few kilometers north of Quito, is currently underutilized. In case the international union is reactivated, he said, the Ecuadorean government would look for an alternative building as it would require much less space.
"The country is open to looking for an ideal and adequate place for its necessities," he said.
The foreign minister previously said Unasur’s agenda had to be simplified and focus on issues that have been a success, such as security and defense, integration of infraestructure and the coordination between health ministries.
This would reduce operation costs, according to Valencia, encouraging countries to continue contributing to the project.
Bolivia Urges Colombia Not to Leave Unasur
Unasur is at a juncture in its history: Colombia’s new right-wing President Ivan Duque has announced his decision to withdraw from the union and called for other South American leaders to follow suit.
However, other leaders have expressed support for the project.
Colombia’s former President Ernesto Samper said Duque’s decision only benefits U.S. foreign policy agendas and deepens the disintegration of Latin America, calling it "simply suicide."
"Unasur has right now a public policy agenda on health, employment, infrastructure, technology," Samper told teleSUR’s Enclave Politica.
"What will we do if we end those integration projects? Are we going to stop buying vaccines together? Are we going to turn our backs on the 1.5 million South Americans who work with Unasur’s temporary work permits? That is what the region must think about."
In April, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru suspended their activities in Unasur until the institution appoints a new secretary general.