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News > Latin America

teleSUR Exclusive: Samper Says UNASUR 'Disintegration is Suicide'

  • Ernesto Samper warned South America of regional disintegration.

    Ernesto Samper warned South America of regional disintegration. | Photo: teleSUR

Published 16 August 2018

Former Unasur chief Ernesto Samper stressed United States policy towards Latin America has never been more aggressive. 

Former Colombian president Ernesto Samper has compared the current process of “disintegration” within the embattled Union of South American Nations (Unasur) to a form of suicide warning countries that the process once started may be impossible to reverse.

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In an exclusive interview with TeleSUR's Orlando Perez on Enclave Politica Wednesday, the former head of the organization said the recent announcement by president Ivan Duque’s foreign minister that Colombia was permanently withdrawing from the only South American integration body without the United States or Canadian presence only deepens the current crisis.

“To think of Latin America in a disintegration process, promoted by several countries, is simply suicide. Our region has never been more threatened by aggressive agendas. For example, Mr. Trump’s agenda, which is to ignore all our aspirations for adequate integration, to persecute our immigrants, build walls, ignore climate change, increase tariffs,” Samper said.

According to him Unasur’s crisis benefits U.S. foreign policy agenda but leaves the region with fewer tools to confront a more aggressive northern neighbor.

Samper also highlighted the role Unasur played in regional development and shared public policy.

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“Unasur is much more than episodic problems of one or two countries. Unasur has right now a public policy agenda on health, employment, infrastructure, technology. What will we do if we end those integration projects? Are we going to stop buying vaccines together? Are we going to turn our backs on the 1.5 million South Americans who work with Unasur’s temporary work permits? That is what the region must think about,” Samper said.

Despite Colombia’s recent announcement, Samper is confident that the decision is not final because the Union’s constitutive treaty forces members who wish to withdraw to consult on the arrangements with Congress. There is still a necessary process that must be fulfilled before leaving Unasur.

Samper also spoke extensively about Colombia’s peace process. He argued Duque’s speech “at least open the door to sustain the Havana accords and to continue with the negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN)” and urged Colombia’s recently sworn in president to resist, the voices within his party, the Democratic Center, that seek to go back to war.”

“Without the ELN we would have a limping peace,” Samper told teleSUR.

On the peace accords, he explained the country’s commitments for the post-conflict phase remain a challenge. “What’s missing is to provide Campesinos, who plant coca with substitution projects, provide reparations for the victims, promote productive projects for the demobilized fighters,” Samper argued saying the government will need economic resources for this.

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