RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica on Friday defended South America’s integration as a peace zone.
“Within the framework of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) we hope to deepen our mutual understanding in order to create a common vision of defense and security for the region, consolidating South America as a zone of peace and democracy,” Lula said in a brief address after the meeting on the Brazil-Uruguay border.
Without mentioning any particular crisis nor referring to Thursday’s Unasur foreign ministers’ meeting in Quito to analyze the Columbian-Venezuelan crisis, Lula said that “Uruguay and Brazil want a South America that is integrated and without conflicts.”
The Venezuelan government broke off relations with Colombia a week ago after Bogota accused Caracas of harboring 1,500 Colombian guerrillas in its territory.
Lula and Mujica unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion in the Uruguayan border city of Rivera, and later met in the neighboring Brazilian city of Santana do Livramento.
Both presidents gave as an example of integration the easy coexistence of Brazilians and Uruguayans in those two cities stitched together by streets virtually without borders.
“Maybe in a hundred years or so, all of Latin America’s borders will be like those of Santana and Rivera. It’s probable that political borders as we know them will be diluted over time,” Mujica said.
They also spoke of the unprecedented defense cooperation accord they signed Friday and their own personal friendship as examples of what they would like for all of South America.
“When our ministers have differences, may they please have a look at the friendship between President Mujica and President Lula and make peace, because that’s the only way we’re going to improve the life of our two peoples,” Lula said.
Mujica said for his part that he hopes all Latin America learns to be as inclined to negotiate as the Brazilian president.
“I don’t know how much longer I have to live, but it won’t be enough to be able to express my gratitude for all that you have contributed, without your even being aware of it, to the history of Latin America,” the 75-year-old Uruguayan said in a speech that brought tears to Lula’s eyes.
Mujica repeated his defense of South American integration that would permit “building one gigantic nation.”
“In order to be anybody at all in a globalizing international world, we have to join with Brazil, Argentina and the other countries of the region,” he said.
Besides a defense cooperation pact, they signed a memorandum on fishing and an accord on scientific, technological and academic cooperation.
They also discussed a new interconnected electrical grid and the integration of railroad lines on the border. EFE