Social organizations, activists, and political leaders met in the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Saturday in defense of regional integration and to reject recent attempts to dismantle the organization.
At 9 a.m. the meeting started with a symbolic ritual performed by an Indigenous authority, or Taita, to bless the efforts. After the ceremony, several political and social leaders gave speeches in support of regional integration and stressing the importance of having a South American bloc in a globalized world.
After the interventions, the different participants formed working groups to talk about on the importance of regional integration processes, the current situation of Unasur, and solidarity with the only South American integration body that has no United States or Canadian presence.
According to the organizers the goal is to draft a common agenda for the upcoming months.
The event was organized on the 64th birthday of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who played a crucial role in promoting sovereign regional integration as an alternative to the United States-dominated Organization of American States (OAS).
Pedro De la Cruz, historic leader of the National Confederation of Campesino, Indigenous and Black Organizations (Fenocin, for its Spanish acronym) and former Ecuadorean legislator said: “form the grassroots we must continue to fight and organize because only through that organization we can continue defending our integration.”
Gabriela Rivadeneira, Ecuadorean legislation, explained that Unasur also expresses “the fight against poverty, for equality and the well being of the great majorities.”
Rosa Mireya Cardenas, a member of the Andean Parliament, stressed that Unasur embodies the integration of South American peoples, it is not only of the governments... the people will have to defend this space."
After the forum, different social organizations will hold a symbolic vigil at the Unasur headquarters.
The forum was organized shortly after Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno announced, on July 5, that the building where Unasur operates would be given to the National Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) to house the intercultural university Amawtay Wasi, which was shut down in 2013 for not meeting standards of quality.
Moreno’s announcement sparked outrage among some who voiced criticism against the Conaie for “collaborating” with the attacks on Unasur.
However, other groups warned Moreno’s announcement was meant to create fictitious divisions among anti-imperialist struggles. The group Desborde argued “While the government tries to divide us, attempting to oppose interculturality and regional integration, we say NO!... Regional integration and the construction of an intercultural society are two sides of the same coin: the self-determination of peoples.”
Bolivia recently responded to Moreno's announcement reminding him Ecuador cannot unilaterally make that decision since the consensus is used to make decisions in Unasur.