By Mar Marin
BUENOS AIRES – The 12-member Union of South American Nations issued on Friday a resounding condemnation of the attempted coup against Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and a warning to those contemplating future bids to unseat elected governments in the region.
Gathered in the wee hours for an emergency summit, leaders of the UNASUR bloc also stressed that “those responsible for the coup attempt must be judged and condemned.”
Those at the meeting agreed to sent the foreign ministers of UNASUR member nations to Quito to strengthen the support expressed for Correa, who spent 12 hours Thursday holed up in a military hospital surrounded by mutinous police and had to be rescued by army special forces troops.
The speed, force and unity shown by UNASUR in its reaction to the attempted coup in Ecuador, leaving aside ideological divisions and differences, set an important warning to any group in the region tempted to destabilize an elected government.
To eliminate any shadow of a doubt, the document warns that governments of the region “will not tolerate, for any reason, any further challenge to constitutional authority nor any attempted coup against civil power legitimately elected.”
“In case of future crises, they will take immediate concrete measures, such as closing borders and suspending trade, air traffic and the provision of energy and services,” the statement said.
For Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, UNASUR’s reaction “constitutes a clear and positive sign” of the organization’s will to defend democratic legality in the region.
For Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez the union’s response set an important precedent against impunity.
“The coup in Honduras – where President Mel Zelaya was ousted in June 2009 – went unpunished. How much damage it is doing us, the impunity of those involved in coups,” the Venezuelan leader said at the close of the Buenos Aires meeting.
Besides Santos and Chavez, Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Alan Garcia of Peru and Sebastian Piñera of Chile attended the meeting, called by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and her husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, in his position as UNASUR secretary-general.
Notably absent were the presidents of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, suffering from an allergy brought on by low immunity following chemotherapy, and of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took part Friday in winding up the electoral campaign in his country. EFE