Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced the return of his country to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on May 30. Photo: Colombian Presidency/Twitter
Colombian President Gustavo Petro, on Tuesday, May 30, announced the return of his country to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional integration organization founded in May 2008.
“I have decided to reintegrate the country into UNASUR by ratifying the treaty approved by Congress through a law and I have requested that it be called the Association of South American Nations to guarantee pluralism and permanence in time,” said President Petro in a tweet.
Petro’s decision came hours after Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva emphasized on the importance of revitalizing the UNASUR as a way to strengthen regional integration. This was one of the key goals of the South American Presidents’ Summit held in Brasilia on Tuesday May 30.
Colombia left UNASUR in August 2018 during the mandate of former conservative president Iván Duque due to the alignment of his government’s foreign policies with the US interests.
UNASUR was created during the period of progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 2000s and under the leadership of late former Venezuelan President Commander Hugo Chávez. Its objective is to build integration in the cultural, economic, social and political areas while respecting the diversity of each of the member nations.
UNASUR originally consisted of all 12 South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela, and brought together an equivalent of 400 million people. However, between 2018 and 2020, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, under the leadership of conservative heads of state, withdrew from the organization to support the US’ “maximum pressure” campaign against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
With the inauguration of left-wing governments in the region and the weakening of US influence over policy, the regional integration mechanisms such as UNASUR and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), among others, have been gaining strength. In April, Argentina and Brazil, under the leadership of President Alberto Fernández and President Lula, rejoined UNASUR and vowed to fortify the regional bloc.
Currently, UNASUR comprises Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.