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News > Latin America

Colombia Formalizes Unasur Withdrawal Without Regional Support

  • Colombian President Ivan Duque accompanied by foreign affairs minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo.

    Colombian President Ivan Duque accompanied by foreign affairs minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo. | Photo: EFE

Published 28 August 2018

Colombia had previously announced they would wait on support from Chile, Argentina, and Peru before formalizing the process.

Colombian President Ivan Duque announced Monday his government had sent the required formal notice to formalizes its withdrawal from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).

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Withdrawal from Unasur was one of Duque’s campaign promises, and he confirmed the country’s departure after being sworn in. Colombia, however, still needed to remove themselves from Unasur’s constitutive treaty as part of the formal requirements to begin the six-month-long process to leave the organization.

“For several years I publicly said that Colombia shouldn’t continue being a part of Unasur because it is an institution that lent itself, with its silence and complacency, to allow the brutal acts of the Venezuelan dictatorship against its citizens,” Duque said in a press conference accompanied by his Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo.

With this decision, Duque consolidates his opposition to the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro and his support for the Inter-America system embodied in the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).

In his statements to the press, the Colombian President argued Unasur, the only South American integration body with no North American presence, was created to weaken the Inter-American system and was used “for the goals of a dictatorship.”

The Unasur crisis began in April when six of the organization’s 12 members announced their temporary withdrawal citing the body’s lack of direction and leadership. Since January 2017, when former Colombian President Ernesto Samper concluded his term as Unasur’s secretary general, the regional body has been unable to agree on a successor.

Duque’s statements reveal the ideological underpinning to the decision to withdraw from Unasur. Something many political analysts warned of since April.

It is not, however, all loss for Unasur. Duque’s government submitted the formal notice alone after it had begun a process of consultations for joint official withdrawal with Peru, Argentina, and Chile. When Colombia’s foreign affairs minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo announced the county’s imminent departure, he explained the letter was ready, but they were in the process of consultations with other countries “that wanted to take the same course.”

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