The meeting of South American presidents laid the groundwork for renewed regional integration in order to avoid "another 500 years on the periphery."
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, having realized that there is no way to make a feijoada with the "Magnificent Seven" (Port. – Feijoada, the most revered and favorite Brazilian dish, a slow-cooked bean stew with various parts of beef and pork, usually eaten on Saturdays. – Auth.) and no way to drink cachaça together (Port. Cachaça, also called Brazilian rum – distillation of fermented sugar cane juice, strength from 38 to 40%. – Aut.), immediately after returning from the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, called the presidents of South American countries to the capital of Brasilia.
Behind the closed doors of the Palacio Itamaraty in the Three Powers Plaza in Brasilia, for the first time in more than 10 years, the presidents of all South American countries, right, left, and centrists alike, gathered together: Alberto Fernandez (Argentina), Luis Arce (Bolivia), Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela), Irfaan Ali (Guyana), Gustavo Petro (Colombia), Mario Abdo Benitez (Paraguay), Chan Santokhi (Suriname), Luis Lacalle Pou (Uruguay), Gabriel Boric (Chile), Guillermo Lasso (Ecuador) and Prime Minister Luis Alberto Otarola (Peru).
"We all lost" because of political polarization when "we allowed ideologies to divide us," Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva called for overcoming ideological divisions, agreeing to create a common, dollar-independent currency and restoring the Union of South American Nations (Union de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR) as part of regional integration.
As Latin American analysts point out today, "the biggest problem with UNASUR is that it was built when leftist leaders were in power and collapsed when rightist leaders came to power.
However, even this time the ideological differences were not avoided. It is a classic: before you unite, you have to separate. The right-wing president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, opened the discussion. "The worst thing we can do is to cover the sun with our fingers," he said, pointing to human rights violations in Venezuela, while remaining silent about no less obvious violations in other countries.
He was supported by the leftist president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, who seems to have some personal grudges against Maduro. The human rights situation in Venezuela is "a serious reality, not a figment of the imagination," he said. However, Boric called for the lifting of U.S. and EU sanctions against Venezuela.
However, these and some other disagreements that arose turned out to be secondary to the continent's global problems.
"Regional unity should be public policy in each of the countries of South America. Let us learn from our mistakes, it was pointless for us to be divided. Let's make UNASUR more flexible and be the creators of our own destiny," said Argentine President Alberto Fernandez.
The meeting ended with the signing of the "Brazilian Consensus," – a nine-point declaration. It stresses the importance of regional integration, which "must be part of the solutions to common problems" and calls for the need "to promote from now on South American cooperation initiatives within a socioeconomic approach."
Despite the differences that have arisen, the declaration reaffirms the commitment to "democracy and human rights, sustainable development and social justice, the rule of law and institutional stability, protection of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs."
Participants agreed that the world faces various threats and challenges, such as the climate crisis, threats to international peace and security, pressure on food and energy chains, risks of new pandemics, growing social inequality, and threats to institutional and democratic stability.
"Regional integration must be part of the solutions to the common challenges of building a secure world," the Brazilian Consensus emphasizes. The document defines the desire of South American countries to promote cooperation in areas such as health, environment, infrastructure, energy, defense, border security and the fight against transnational crime.
The South American leaders reached an understanding on the creation of an effective South American free trade area, agreeing to work toward the elimination of unilateral measures and market access through a network of economic complementarity agreements, including through the intergovernmental Latin American Integration Association (Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración, ALADI) to create an effective South American free trade area.
The Brazilian president suggested that instead of using the dollar for trade in South America, they should create their own currency as a "common controlling unit for trade, reducing dependence on foreign currencies" and more effective clearing mechanisms.
The presidents of the 12 countries decided to create a contact group, headed by foreign ministers, which is to develop a road map for South American integration within 120 days in order to achieve an "effective South American free trade area."
South America, with nearly 450 million people, is an important consumer market and the world's fifth-largest economy, with a combined GDP of more than $4 trillion in 2023.
The gringos would not be gringos if they did not seek political dividends. Having heard through its channels the intention of the Brazilian president to hold a meeting of South American heads of state, the U.S. urged the Organization of American States (OAS), under its control, to immediately discuss "the scope of threats and risks to democracy in the region." Of course, at the "request of concerned opposition politicians" of Venezuela, since "the threat to democratic institutions in the country has taken real shape."
Not by chance, but quite deliberately, as in Brasilia, the same Tuesday, May 30, the OAS held a plenary meeting in Washington, where its members discussed the revival of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (Carta Democrática Interamericana), in the context of "challenges."
Recall that this legal pact was ratified by OAS member states in Lima, Peru, in 2001. The Charter, according to its founders, is supposed to be a tool "to prevent attempts to encroach on democratic regimes in member states and strengthen the sustainability of democratic gains." In fact, it is nothing more than a declarative document, "when and whoever needs it" sounding loudly, but without any legal basis, allowing the interference of the rest of the OAS member states in the internal affairs of the country where this very "threat to democracy" exists.
South American experts believe that this event in Washington looks like a "punch on the table" with no far-reaching consequences, but in the hope of scaring the emboldened "Latinos" so much that they immediately surrender to the mercy of their master. Not to mention the "Chavista regime of Maduro."
And, of course, the U.S. administration, counting on the continued "rent" of the White House by the stumbling and falling old man Biden, is counting on the replacement of the "pink tide" with a "rainbow" star-spangled "tide."
Perhaps by doing so, the United States has only reinforced the South American heads of state in their desire for unity and cohesion, and the adoption of the "Brazilian Consensus."
"No country grows alone. (...) We come together to fight together and defend our interests together and refuse to spend another 500 years on the periphery. We need to leave strong roots for the next generations," proclaimed the "patriarch" of South American diplomacy, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.