Caracas, May 5 2010 (venezuelanalysi.com) – The final declaration of the summit of presidents of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), held in Argentina yesterday, condemned the recent immigration law SB1070 passed by the U.S. state of Arizona on the grounds that it criminalises people on the basis of race.
The South American presidents “reject the criminalisation of migrants” contained in the law adopted on 23 April, which allows for the “detention of persons on a discretionary basis by racial, ethnic, phenotype, language and immigration status considerations, through the questionable concept of reasonable doubt,” the statement adopted by the summit said.
The statement determined that the law could lead to “the legitimisation of racist attitudes in the host society and the latent risk of regrettable incidents of violence due to racial hatred, of which many South American citizens have already been victims.”
In this regard the statement recognised, “the importance of the expressions of rejection expressed by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, other countries, as well as the Secretary of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez described Arizona’s new law, which has sparked protests across the U.S. as “inhumane.”
In addition to Chavez, the summit was attended by the presidents of Brazil; Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva, Uruguay; José Mujica, Ecuador; Rafael Correa, Paraguay; Fernando Lugo, Chile; Sebastián Piñera, Bolivia; Evo Morales, and Argentina; Cristina Fernandez.
The other member nations of the regional bloc were represented by their foreign ministers, Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde from Peru, Jaime Bermúdez; Colombia, Lygia Kraag-Keteldijk; Suriname and Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett from Guyana.
The summit took steps towards the further consolidation and institutionalisation of the emerging regional bloc with the unanimous election of former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner as the first general secretary of UNASUR.
Chavez expressed Venezuela’s support for the move saying “I’m very happy with the decision we took by consensus.”
“I think it would be difficult, in this moment, in this juncture, to find someone with more experience, qualities and characteristics of a statesman, and with such a passion for the South,” he stressed.
Similarly, Lula said the designation of Kirchner represented a stage of consolidation and strengthening of the regional bloc.
The pro tempore president of UNASUR and of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, argued that the appointment of Kirchner would help to push forward the process of integration.
The summit also made a range of other accords including an agreement to develop an energy strategy for the continent through the formation of the South American Energy Council of UNASUR, to increase cooperation to combat drug trafficking, development of social programs as well as assistance and cooperation with Haiti and Chile in earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro said another item under ongoing discussion is, “an agenda that allows dialogue on equal terms, in respectful terms [with the U.S.], to achieve a future that overcomes, what in the last hundred years has been imposed on our continent by the imperial elites who have governed the United States and treated all of Latin America as their backyard. That time is over and it is felt very strongly at the meetings we have held in UNASUR.”
Maduro explained that the proposal for dialogue with the United States arises out of the decision last year by the Colombian government to allow the installation of seven U.S. military bases on its territory.
Speaking on behalf of the regional bloc, Correa said the UNASUR countries are also opposed to the invitation to Honduras to participate in the upcoming Latin American- European Union Summit in Madrid over May 17-18, due to the military coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in June last year, and the U.S. backed fraudulent elections carried out by the coup regime in November.
He was emphatic in stating that, “You can not legitimise elections under the aegis of a dictatorship and you can not set a precedent of this nature, that any group of adventurers can carry out a coup with bayonets, and in three or four months call for elections and absolutely nothing happens.”