In an extraordinary meeting of the Union of South American Nations in Quito, Ecuador, the outgoing Secretary-General Ernesto Samper described U.S. President Donald Trump's anti-immigration decrees as xenophobic and racist, asserting that protectionist measures and fiscal retaliation against Mexican products do not respect trade agreements between the two nations.
Referring to the rise of the right wing on the continent, Samper said countries must seek to advance social policy, adding that the implementation of neoliberal measures for economic development will not solve the problems of poverty in the region, citing that in recent months about 10 million people have returned to their previous poverty.
The secretary-general also mentioned the process of dialogue initiated in Venezuela to find a solution to the political problem in the country and highlighted the role of the Venezuelan government and its constant presence at the table despite the fluctuations of right-wing opposition sectors. Likewise, he referred to the progress made in Colombia with regard to the peace process and the end of the conflict.
Guillaume Long, Ecuador's minister of foreign affairs and human mobility urged the governments of South America to turn regional integration into a state policy that does not depend on current heads of state. "Integration has to be a state policy, not a government policy, in the long run," he told teleSUR from the headquarters of UNASUR.
Long thanked Ernesto Samper for his over two years as UNASUR's general secretary.
On the replacement of Samper, Long said the election process was in a good place, in spite of the marked ideological differences that exist between governments.
"We are in that process, we do not have a definitive name, (but) there is a consensus that it has to be done quickly," he said.
Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, stressed that the UNASUR will not, however, be left with an administrative vacuum and the debate on the main issues in the region is still underway.