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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chávez says it's time to 'institutionalize Unasur' after Lula meeting

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez(R) and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva shake hands during a meeting at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia.

Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez agreed to strengthen Unasur and said that the bilateral relations between the countries would remain strong, even after the October 3 elections in Brazil this year.

Chávez did seem to favour candidate Dilma Rousseff, however, during the meeting held at the Palacio Itamaraty, in Brasilia, where agreements on energy use, industry, commerce and infrastructure were signed.

"Unasur is a consolidated institution, and many times we expect a lot from it and we forget that the European Union took 50 years" to reach its institutional maturity," said Lula da Silva.

Lula dedicated an important part of his speech to regional issues and to the integration process.

"There were those that did not believe in the Mercosur, who wanted the ALCA area for free commerce in Latin America, and they did not believe in Unasur," said Lula, underlining the support that he received from Chávez in the fight to reach agreements between countries of that region.

The next Unasur meeting, to be held in Buenos Aires on May 4, was another issue discussed by Lula and Chávez during the meeting that lasted almost an hour and a half.

"We discussed some things about Unasur, and the new secretary general will probably come from there," said Chávez. In addition, although both Lula and Chávez had said that they would support the candidacy of ex Argentine president Néstor Kirchner for Unasur Secretary General, nothing was mentioned at this meeting.

Chávez said that the most important thing in his opinion is to "accelerate" the construction of the Latin American forum. "It is time to institutionalize Unasur, the Defense Committee" of Latin America, said Chávez.

 

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