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LATIN AMERICA | 30-08-2022 17:04

Andean leaders want Argentina, Chile, Venezuela to join regional bloc

Colombian President Gustavo Petro makes his international debut at Andean Community of Nations (CAN) summit in Lima; Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru call for Argentina, Chile and Venezuela to join the bloc.

The presidents of the four member states of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) countries have urged Argentina, Chile and Venezuela to join the bloc – a move that would underline Latin America’s shift the diplomatic left.

The Andean aspiration was backed unanimously at a summit in Lima on Monday, with the presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru all supporting the call. Argentina is the only of the three proposed nations that has not previously been a member of the bloc. 

"How good it would be if the Andean Community could expand," said Colombian President Gustavo Petro, addressing his peers at his first major international event since he was sworn in on August 7. 

"If we integrate Chile, Venezuela and Argentina,I think this would significantly change things and our voice would be heard more clearly on the world stage,” he added.

During the summit, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso handed over the pro-tempore presidency of the bloc to his Peruvian counterpart, Pedro Castillo, who voiced his support for expansion.

"I would like to express the importance it would have for the Andean Community, and the benefits for its members, to have Chile and Venezuela rejoin," said Castillo at the event, proposing “sub-regional integration” that “includes our sister Republic of Argentina.”

Peru’s Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Rodríguez echoed those words during a meeting of his regional peers prior to the presidential summit. 

"The Andean homeland needs to be fortified, which is why it needs the return of Chile and also, in due course, the return of Venezuela. And with them the incorporation of Argentina, which is crossed by the Andes," he said.

Bolivian President Luis Arce also called for greater cooperation and solidarity across the region.    

"We must show the greatest openness to work to establish mechanisms for incorporating new and previous members of our integration process," said the Bolivian leader.

A joint declaration issued at the conclusion of the summit indicated that the four member states would “analyse the advisability of inviting other countries in the region to join the mechanism, with the aim of constituting an expanded, robust bloc that increases trade, favours social and economic development and promotes the effective integration of Latin America.”

They also indicated they had accepted Turkey’s request to join the group as an associate state.

The nations also called for a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine, while underlining the conflict’s negative impact on food supply chains across the world. 

This is the first Andean summit since 2019 and the first in which Petro, Lasso, Arce and Castillo have participated. In recent years, a number of left-wing governments have taken office across the region, with Ecuador’s Lasso now CAN’s sole remaining centre-right leader.

Created in 1969 as the Andean Pact amid a context of developmentalist policies, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are all founder members of CAN. 

Venezuela joined in 1973 but quit in 2006 under the government of Hugo Chávez. Chile left the group in 1976 when the country was ruled by General Augusto Pinochet. It rejoined in 2007 as an associate state.

 

– TIMES/AFP/TÉLAM

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