South American leaders launch new political alliance

World Today

Leaders of South American countries launch a new political organization. Prosur will replace a regional group started by former Venenzuelan President Hugo Chavez, and will reflect the continent’s shift to the right. CGTN’s Joel Richards has details.

In South America the political pendulum has swung from the left, to the right. On Friday many leaders met in Santiago, Chile, for the inaugural meeting of a new regional bloc which they say is committed to democracy, market economies and that is free of ideology.

“We want this forum to have a strong and clear commitment to the principles of freedom, of democracy, and of the respect for human rights. That is not ideology, those are values and principles,” said Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

The forum for the progress of South America, or Prosur, has not invited Venezuela to participate, and neither Bolivia President Evo Morales nor Uruguay president Tabaré Vazquez attended. Prosur in effect replaces UNASUR which was largely sponsored by Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez at a time when leftist governments were in power in the region.

But UNASUR’s building now stands vacant in Quito, Ecuador, as the political tide has changed. Many countries have withdrawn from the organization.

President Lenin Moreno hopes the building will be transferred to Ecuador and used as an indigenous university. Yet despite the rhetoric of leaders taking part, many analysts like Bruno Binetti of the Inter-American Dialogue believe Prosur could make similar mistakes to UNASUR.

“Many of these leaders that are pushing for the Prosur initiative criticized UNASUR for being a politicized institution that responded to the interests of left wing leaders such as Hugo Chavez or Lula in Brazil,” said Binetti. “I think they are doing the exact same thing with Prosur. How would this institution survive after the incumbents leave office? That is the key question. If we are going to create new institutions every time there is a political shift in Latin America then we are not going to build real sustainable integration.”

Prosur has stated its aims are regional integration, and this new bloc could see trade agreements like the pacific alliance expanding, but many question marks over its motivation remains.

Jose R. Cardenas on the new South American bloc, Prosur

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes interviewed Jose R. Cardenas of Vision Americas on the new South American political grouping, Prosur.