South American countries make forum for stronger ties

South American leaders announce new regional bloc

A group of South American presidents has launched a new regional bloc to replace the Union of South American Nations that was promoted by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to counter US influence in the region.

Presidents and representatives from Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Paraguay and Guyana signed a joint declaration to create "a regional space of coordination and cooperation, without exclusion of ideologies" at a meeting in Santiago. However, Unasur fell apart following Chavez' death and the escalating crisis in Venezuela, with the bloc failing to take action.

The previous group, called Unasur, was started in 2008 when numerous founding nations were led by leftist governments. Eventually, most of its member either suspended their membership or opted to leave all together.

Prosur is a forum "without ideology and bureaucracy, but with a total commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights", Piñera said on Friday. The South American heads of state are meeting to discuss the development of a new regional political bloc called Prosur, the idea being to replace the Unasur, the current body that many describe as defunct.

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Chavez's successor, President Nicolas Maduro, was not invited to the Prosur meeting.

The main goal will be to foster the creation of a regional forum, called in advance Prosur, to replace the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) from which these governments were separated one after another, in which right-wing forces prevail.

The Unasur separation occurred as countries within the organization had disagreements about issues in Venezuela that deepened in recent years.

Unasur, with headquarters in Quito, was formed about a decade ago by 12 members at a time when Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Argentina had governments headed by left-oriented leaders, G1 added. Kirchner's legacy has been marred by allegations of corruption.

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