6 countries suspend membership in UNASUR regional bloc
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — A South American bloc created a decade ago to counter U.S. influence in the region has temporarily lost half its members after six countries suspended their memberships amid differences over who should lead the group.
Bolivian Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni said Friday that Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru had decided to temporarily leave the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, given differences over choosing the secretary general of the group.
“We have received a note from the six countries saying they will not participate in UNASUR meetings for a period of one year” until the leadership issue is resolved, Huanacuni said by telephone from Ecuador to state television Boliviatv.
Paraguay’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the impossibility of electing a general secretary for UNASUR affects the bloc and that the six countries that will remain outside it until they see “concrete results that guarantee its operation.”
Huanacuni announced a meeting in May to discuss the matter.
UNASUR was promoted by late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela remain in the bloc.