Following Colombia’s official withdrawal from the intergovernmental regional organization UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), Colombian President Iván Duque announced on January 14 the creation of a new union called PROSUR. President Duque explained that PROSUR would function as an organization for regional coordination and cooperation of public policy, defense of democracy, promotion of the separation of powers, and the fostering of market economies among South American countries.
On February 19, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera echoed President Duque by announcing that Chile will host PROSUR’s first summit in March 2019. President Piñera extended an invitation to the summit to the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana, and Suriname.
Presidents Duque and Piñera have made clear that as a requirement to join PROSUR nations must meet the following qualifications:
- Have a democracy in place;
- Have a strong rule of law; and
- Fully respect human rights and freedoms.
To date, Venezuela has been the only South American nation not invited to participate at the summit because, as President Piñera stated, “Venezuela does not comply” with the requirements to be part of PROSUR. This position is similar to President Duque’s stance on Venezuela, who also believes the best way to overcome a dictatorial regime is by strengthening and maintaining a strong diplomatic blockade that isolates the dictatorship.
Other intergovernmental groups, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and Grupo Lima, have expressed strong support for Interim President Juan Guaidó and have rejected Maduro’s claim to power. Both Grupo Lima and the OAS recognized the delegates appointed by the interim administration of Juan Guiadó and rejected the Maduro appointed representatives.
Grupo Lima is scheduled to meet on February 25th to discuss potential actions on Venezuela after the Maduro regime, on February 23rd, burned the humanitarian aid that managed to cross into Venezuela. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will also be attending the meeting. The presidents of Chile and Colombia alongside OAS Secretary General Almagro issued a strong statement condemning the brutality of the Maduro dictatorship and reinforcing their alliance to Interim President Guaidó.
In a recent interview, President Duque stated PROSUR could potentially emulate the European Union (EU) through cross-border fiscal policies. PROSUR’s immediate goal, however, is to end UNASUR’s role in the region. UNASUR was created by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and continues to be heavily influenced by Venezuela.
Although Chile and Colombia are leading the PROSUR initiative, its success will depend on the support of those countries who decide to join the organization in March. The creation of PROSUR could strengthen trade ties and foster stronger collaboration throughout the region. It also could lead to the creation of a free trade zone that would expand the Pacific Alliance and other initiatives in Latin America.