Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Unasur Unity Tested by Events in Libya

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The foreign affairs ministers of Union of South American Nations (Unasur) member-countries gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday for a meeting  on economic cooperation and diplomacy. The members agreed on plans to send Unasur monitors to upcoming regional elections but could not reach a consensus on the group’s position on recent developments in Libya.

Members are divided between those—like Colombia and Brazil—who suggest formally recognizing Libya’s National Transition Council (NTC) and those, like Venezuela and Ecuador , who question the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) multilateral military intervention.

Brazil’s Antonio Patriota added the Libya conflict to this year’s meeting agenda and proposed that the bloc recognize the NTC alongside Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and others. In Latin America, only Colombia has officially recognized the governing body.

“We exchanged our views and recognized that this is a situation in permanent evolution but we have not established a position about it”, said Carolyn Rodrigues-Bickett, Guyana’s Foreign Affairs minister and also president pro tempore of the Union.

Members also agreed that Unasur will start working on the design of a multilateral payment system to reinforce the use of local currencies and the creation of a regional bank, Banco del Sur. The 12 countries also agreed on steps to coordinate the use of their reserves to quell economic volatility.

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