Photo via Télam

Several news sites reported in the past days that six South American countries, Argentina among them, decided to suspend their membership of the UNASUR, an intergovernmental organization created in 2008, which aimed to become – down the line – a supranational union similar to the European Union. The other countries that suspended their memberships are Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Paraguay; those that remain are Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

The decision represents a decisive blow to the organization, as it means the leaving states will stop financing it. In a letter sent to Bolivian Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni, representing Bolivia’s temporary presidency (it rotates every year), the reason mainly comes as a result of the “urgent need” to solve the fact that the organization does not have a secretary general.

“Given the current circumstances, the signing countries have decided to not participate in the different instances of Unasur as of this date, until we don’t see, in the course of the following weeks, concrete results guaranteeing the adequate functioning of the organization,” the letter reads.

The Unasur building
The Unasur building

According to La Nación, Argentina attempted to appoint a secretary general during its presidency last year – it nominated Argentine Ambassador to Chile José Octavio Bordón – but failed due to a lack of consensus, as Bolivia and Venezuela rejected the nomination. All decisions at Unasur must be unanimous.

In another passage of the letter, the countries regretted that “despite their efforts,” the organization, under Argentina’s presidency “was not able to move forward on its articulation and coordination proposal with other regional forums to prevent the duplication of agendas and focusing Unasur’s efforts in the achievement of its initial goals’ infrastructure and physical and energetic integration, among others.” “Conditions to make decisions at Unasur are not given,” the release adds.

However, the Bolivian Foreign Minister said he did not have any official information regarding the alleged departure of the countries, but anticipated he intended to call the rest of his counterparts in the organization to an emergency meeting in May. According to Reuters, Huanacuni said the six countries “were just pressuring for a quick turnover in presidency and stressed they were not abandoning Unasur.”

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, on his end, said that Unasur “must be defended” and taunted the “right-wing leaders” by calling them to “have a little South American conscience.” Maduro then warned that if “a member of the right-wing tries to stab [the Unasur] to bleed it out, the social and revolutionary movements of South America” will defend the organization.

Moreover, he congratulated his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales and said he will get the Unasur to progress.

The Unasur was created in 2008 by late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and was aimed at having an organization – influenced by governments that identified themselves as left-wing – that would counter US influence in the region, which they argued exercised through the Organization of American States (OAS).

The advent of governments with different ideology in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Chile – critical of their predecessors and of Maduro’s regime in Venezuela – deepened the political divide reigning in the region’s geopolitics, and led to the current situation the organization is going through.