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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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    The first South American leaders’ summit was marred by disagreements over Venezuela.

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    The inaugural South American presidents’ conference, held to bolster regional integration efforts, highlighted substantial disagreements among some of the leaders regarding Venezuela’s human rights status.

    During the meeting, held Tuesday in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, the presidents of Uruguay and Chile criticised Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s strong support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

    On Monday, Lula met with Maduro, who arrived in Brazil for the first time since being barred by former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in 2019.

    The Brazilian president stated that Western countries have pushed a “anti-democratic and authoritarian narrative” of Venezuela, and he criticised economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by countries such as the United States, which have exacerbated the country’s humanitarian catastrophe.

    However, some of the summit’s presidents disagreed with Lula’s public support for Maduro.

    Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou stated that the “worst thing we can do” is pretend that Venezuela has no severe human rights problems.

    “If there are so many groups trying to mediate for full democracy in Venezuela, for human rights to be respected, for no political prisoners, the worst thing we can do is pretend nothing is happening,” he said.

    Chile’s socialist President Gabriel Boric also criticised the neighbouring country’s human rights status.

    “It is not a narrative construct; it is a fact.” Boric told reporters, “It’s serious.” “I have had the opportunity to see it in the eyes and in the pain of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are in our homeland today and who also demand a firm and clear position that human rights must always and everywhere be respected.”

    The presidents of 11 nations in the area attended the conference. Dina Boluarte of Peru, who is not authorised to leave her country due to legal processes, was the only president who did not attend, but she sent a delegate in her place.

    ​​​​​​​During his opening statement, Lula emphasised the importance of regional cooperation, including the creation of a unified currency and the formation of a common energy market. ​​​​​​​

     

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