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    Colombia's President Ivan Duque after voting in a seven-question referendum on anti-corruption measures in Bogota, Colombia August 26, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 January 2019

Colombian President Ivan Duque says he and Chilean President Piñera a creating 'Prosur' to replace Unasur as the region's diplomatic union.

Right-wing Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Monday that he and several South American leaders, including billionaire Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, are in talks to develop a diplomatic group, Prosur, to counter Unasur (Union South American Nations) begun by former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Bolivia: Ecuador Can't Cede Unasur Building Without Consensus

Talking with a Cali radio station Duque said: "We have been working to end Unasur and create Prosur with the president of Chile, Sebastian Piñera … which will be a South American mechanism to make public policies."

Unasur was created 10 years ago by late Venezuelan socialist president Hugo Chavez to counteract the hegemonic influence of the United States in the region. A wave of more recently elected right-wing presidents in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Peru all temporarily suspended their membership to the diplomatic and economic group in 2018. Duque also removed Colombia from Unasur when he was inaugurated last August.

During his interview Duque called for the “shut down” of Unasur he says is too heavily influenced by Venezuela.

"We've been advancing toward the end of Unasur and the creation of Prosur ... a South American platform for the coordination of public policies, the defense of democracy, independent institutions, and market economies," Duque told radio listeners on Monday, according to Reuters.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters. President Maduro was sworn in on Jan. 10 and officially ratified as the head of state by the Constituent Assembly on Monday.

Venezuela has been suffering from an "economic war" incited by the United States and its allies that includes a slew of economic sanctions on the oil-rich country, Maduro, his wife and top officials.

Original members Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay and Bolivia as well as Guyana and Suriname remain in the Unasur pact.  

Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is the current pro tempore president inaugurated a new Unasur parliament headquarters in the department of Cochabamba. He has yet to make a comment on Duque’s Monday announcement.

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