Guyana’s successful hosting of the fourth regular summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), without doubt, has boosted the country’s international image and has placed it in a position where it can play a leading role in guiding the continental integration process.
In the aftermath of the action by a mutinous section of the Ecuadorian police to topple President Rafael Correa from power on September 30, South American leaders that same evening hurriedly called an emergency summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in Buenos Aires where they “strongly condemned the coup attempt”.
Two weeks after the UNASUR-brokered diplomatic fence-mending meeting on August 10 between the Presidents of Venezuela and Colombia, the political action in the region took another turn when the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on August 23, through an “open letter” to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) expressed its desire for peace and requested to address the continental body of its vision for the country’s internal conflict.
In what can be regarded as an advance in relations between the United States (US) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a letter on January 19 to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, revealed that the American government was ready to hold dialogue on security issues with the continental bloc. Correa currently holds the rotating presidency of the organisation.
Earlier this year, the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) convened a forum in Caracas on the protection of the region’s folklore, traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Protection of these resources, which form the basis of cultural industries, is a particularly sensitive issue for the countries and governments of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, during December 7-18, 2009. There still remains optimism that this conference will result in the revision the Kyoto Protocol and will produce a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012. However, as revealed by the intransigence of some of the leaders of the industrialised world during the recent UN General Assembly debate on climate change, there is growing scepticism that this may not happen.
The fragility of democracy in Latin America was revealed late last month when the democratically elected president of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya, was ousted by the army and exiled to neighbouring Costa Rica. Significantly, this coup which also forced out Zelaya’s cabinet was backed by a large section of the members of the Congress, including many of the president’s own party, as well as the judges of the Supreme Court.