Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ali Rodrigues is the new Secretary General of UNASUR

Ali Rodrigues Araque, the Venezuelan Electricity Minister took over as the new secretary general of UNASUR (union of south american nations) on 11 May in Bogota. The new secretary general pledged to work for energy integration and the preservation of the region’s natural resources. 

Ali Rodrigues replaces Maria Emma Mejia, a former Colombian Foreign Minister (1996-1998) who was SG in the last one year. The term of the secretary general is one year.Mejia and Rodríguez were elected in 2011 to occupy successively, a year each, the post of Secretary General of Unasur following the death (October 2010) of the first holder of the post, former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner.

Ali Rodrigues, a former guerrilla leader, has held a number of cabinet posts in the government of Chavez. I had met him in Caracas when he was Minister of petroleum. He is a mature and pragmatic statesman of Venezuela which has too many extremist leaders on the left and right.

The ceremony was witnessed by the Colombian and Paraguayan Presidents. Preceding the ceremony, the twelve Foreign ministers of Unasur held an extraordinary council meeting.

Unasur was formed in 2008 as a bloc of all the 12 countries of South America -Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela. The Presidency of Unasur rotates every year and a summit meeting takes place once a year. The Unasur secretariat is located in Quito, Ecuador.  The current President is Paraguay who took over from Guayana in October 2011.

Unasur has ambitious agenda for integration but unfortunately has not made serious efforts to implement its agenda. President Santos admitted, in his speech at the ceremony, that when Unasur was first created he was sceptical to the point of asking whether the new organization was going to create more problems than benefits. He confessed that he was wrong in his perception and expressed his optimism for the future of the group. I share his optimism.

More information on Unasur in

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