QUITO, Ecuador – Just days away from beginning his second term as president of Ecuador and taking on the pro tempore presidency of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), President Rafael Correa has announced that he will promote political integration and growth within the regional bloc in order to “detract importance” from the Organization of American States (OAS), which gathers together the 34 countries in the Americas.
El Comercio reported that amidst a fall in popularity, which has dropped from 59 percent to 40 percent over a period of three months according to the latest survey by Market, the president, who defines himself as a socialist along the same political lines as his colleagues Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, will take over the six-month presidency from Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Aug. 10.
The beginning of his term at the helm of the new integration scheme will also be marked by a diplomatic breach with Colombia, which worsened after the recent appearance of a video of a FARC guerrilla chief who assured that the rebel group had contributed funds to Correa’s electoral campaign. The Ecuadorian president denies the allegation.
Security Minister Miguel Carvajal said to AFP, “This is a campaign to make the government start out with weaknesses, with problems, with international disfavor, just when we are about to take on the Unasur presidency.
According to EFE, Correa stated that he will attempt to turn Unasur into “an organization of Latin American states,” with which groups such as the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) and Mercosur should converge. “The structures of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) have become too intermingled and are not in keeping with the present day,” stressed the president.
He suggested that Unasur should offer new options for regional integration, such as strengthening the South American Defense Council to deal with incidents comprising alleged military attacks among or against its members. “If one country attacks another, it has to understand that it is facing severe sanctions from the rest of the region,” stated the Ecuadorian president, who broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia in March 2008 after the Colombian military attacked a camp belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Ecuadorian soil.