South American nations forge union

Twelve nations gather to create regional economic and political bloc.

    Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's president, left, has refused to be a part of the Unasur [AFP]

    Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, who stands to gain regional clout from the grouping, said that this was a sign that South America was becoming a "global actor".

    'Number one enemy'

    Brazil also wants Unasur to co-ordinate defence affairs across South America.

    Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, said the association was a counterweight to the US.

    "The number one enemy of the union of the south is the empire of the United States trying to generate wars in

    South America to divide and conquer," he said.

    Lula invited other Latin American and Caribbean nations, saying

    : "Unasur is born, open to the entire region, born under the signs of diversity and pluralism."

    However, the grouping is not without its divisions.

    Borja stepped down as the union's secretary-general on Thursday saying

    that some leaders had balked at his vision of putting regional trade blocs

    within Unasur's remit.

    Leaders were also split over plans for a South American defence council that would resolve conflicts,

    promote military co-operation and possibly co-ordinate joint weapons production.

    Colombia had not only opposed joining the council but had turned down the presidency

    because of its dispute with Venezuela and Ecuador over Farc rebels.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?