South American Commission Solidifies Integration Plans in Venezuela

The Third Meeting of the Strategic Commission for Integration of the South American Community concluded its meeting in Caracas.

Caracas, Venezuela, September 1, 2006 —After two days of continued discussions on South American integration, the Third Meeting of the Strategic Commission for Integration of the South American Community of Nations came to a close today in Caracas.

The meeting was attended by an official representative of each of the 12 South American countries- including the Argentine first-lady Cristina Fernandez -and chaired by Venezuela’s Integration Minister, Gustavo Marquez Marin and Uruguay’s Presidential Advisor, Ariel Bergamino.

Although the Commission announced today that they are just in the discussion phase, Bergamino verified that they are working in five themes of integration: Energy, physical, social, financial and institutional.

“In South America, we are 12 countries that have been together for years, we are neighbors… but regardless for many years we have felt as though we have had our backs to each other, and we don’t know each other very well,” said Bergamino, speaking on the physical integration of the countries. “I don’t think that there is any reason any longer for the distance between our countries.”

Referring to their work on the institutional architecture of the South American Community of Nations, Marquez declared that it is a long process, but “it is an open debate” and there is clarity that “this architecture should be the result of the process.”

“What we need today are mechanisms that guarantee the continuity and the acceleration of the process of integration,” said Marquez, “Not bureaucratic structures that generate additional costs and at the end of the day aren’t the necessary instruments.”

Marquez added that they are attempting to learn from the past and current attempts at integration such as MERCOSUR, the Community of Andean Nations and CARICOM in order to create the structure of integration for the South American Community of Nations.

“You have to evaluate all of these process to learn from the good and the bad, and most importantly, so that the new architecture of the integration expresses the new model- an integration that puts the social first, that’s based on complementation, that truly tackles the agenda in a comprehensive way and not just in the strictly commercial realm,” said Marquez

Speaking on the financial front, Marquez announced the creation of a working group, to be coordinated by Venezuela, which will work “over the next three weeks to prepare a report so that the Commission that will meet in Montevideo can have more concrete and substantial elements with which to make decisions.”

Marquez also announced that considering that each country must look for financing in its own region, Venezuela is proposing the creation of a Bank of the South “as a system that permits us to convert the savings of the region in social investment, and flip the vicious cycle of de-capitalization which is produced as a consequence of the fact that the savings of the regions- the National reserves, for example -are placed in the banks of the more developed countries… and the saving is not at the service of our people’s greatest problems.”

The South American Community of Nations was formed on December 8, 2004, in a joint decision by all of the South American Country, in order to push for the integration and unity of South America.

The Strategic Commission was created in December 2005 to work, debate and discuss various ideas and issues over the next year, in order to produce a “Document of Reflection” to be examined by the South American Presidents at their next meeting.

At least two more Strategic Commission meetings are planned before the South American Presidential Summit is held at the end of this year in Bolivia. Bolivia has additionally called for a social summit to coincide with the Presidential summit. The next commission meeting will take place at the end of this month in Montevideo.