Colombian President Gustavo Petro, on May 30, announced the return of his country to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional integration organization founded in May 2008.
UNASUR was created during the period of progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 2000s and under the leadership of the late former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Its objective is to build integration in the cultural, economic, social, and political arenas while respecting the diversity among the member nations.
Petro’s decision came hours after Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva emphasized the importance of revitalizing UNASUR as a way to strengthen regional integration. This was one of the key goals of the South American Presidents’ Summit held in Brasilia on May 30.
UNASUR originally consisted of all 12 South American countries and brought together representatives of 400 million people. Between 2018 and 2020, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, under the leadership of conservative heads of state, withdrew from the organization to support the U.S.’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
With the inauguration of left-wing governments in the region and the weakening of U.S. influence, regional integration mechanisms such as UNASUR have been gaining strength. In April, Argentina and Brazil rejoined UNASUR and vowed to fortify the regional bloc.