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President Maduro: We Have the Political Strength to Spur Further Integration

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Saturday that the peoples of South America sent a clear message in support of integration policies when they reelected Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, in addition to electing Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, who is from the same party as outgoing President José Mujica.
 
“The four electoral victories marked a political agenda [and] send a clear message: the peoples want to us to continue on our own path to integration,” Maduro emphasized during an interview with Telesur after having returned to Venezuela following an Extraordinary Session of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on December 5 in Quito, Ecuador.
 
President Maduro urged the bloc to become stronger “in order to navigate the 21st century” and to defeat those who attempt to undermine South American unity.
 
Supporting Peace in Colombia
 

As part of the efforts to further integration, Maduro reaffirmed his support for the peace process between the Colombian government and representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) that are taking place in Havana, Cuba.
 
“We will help Colombia in any way to guarantee peace.  We will always be on the side of peace in Colombia,” he said, before also noting that “since President Chávez’s time, we have participated in every way possible to help the government of President Santos and Colombia achieve peace.”
 
Bank of the South

 
The Venezuelan President noted that the UNASUR Extraordinary Session evaluated the region’s 2014 economic performance given the slump in prices of products exported by the region.  As such, decisions were made to activate the Bank of the South. “Before the end of December, the Bank of the South will have its governing structure and activated capital,” he announced.
 
UNASUR Day
 

“In an official document we, the President of South America, have decided that every year, April 17 will be celebrated in our countries as UNASUR Day,” President Maduro indicated.
 
He further said that as of next year, cultural activities will be organized in recognition of the historic date when the South American Community of Nations changed its name to the Union of South American Nations.  The President also referred to the importance of strengthening regional integration under the Bolivarian concept of union.
 
South American Examples
 
During the interview, President Maduro extolled outgoing Uruguayan President José “Pepe” Mujica as a moral and ethical example for South America.
 
“Pepe expresses the deep humanism of the Latin American left.  Pepe is the representative of the beautiful humanist diversity of Latin America’s left in the 21st century.  He is a fundamental ethical and spiritual reference point,” Maduro said.
 
In other new, the President emphasized that Ernesto Samper, UNASUR’s Secretary General and the former President of Colombia, has quickly adapted to his position and role within the regional bloc.
 
Moreover, President Maduro noted that following Alí Rodríguez’s tenure, which “gave us a patrimony, a doctrine, a vision”, UNASUR has “a Secretary General who has said: let us move forward from the vision to action and early, concrete achievements.”
 
AVN / Press – Venezuelan Embassy in the US / December 9, 2014

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