Statements from the UNASUR meeting on integration demonstrate both why it's an interesting development but also why most of the ideas are likely to fail.
Pushes for integration have popped up ever since independence, but this is bigger because it includes citizenship, common currency, regional education, and more. So it goes beyond Pan-Americanism and looks to a European model. It is ambitious, which is a good thing.
The process of getting to there from here, however, is an entirely different matter. The presidential comments are illustrative in that regard. In particular, the weaker countries want more clout.
Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, argued that the statutes of UNASUR should be changed and that majorities, rather than absolute consensus, should be the minimum necessary basis on which to advance important areas of integration.
So if Suriname, Guyana, Uruguay, etc. want economic convergence but Brazil opposes it, the small countries can still get it. It is hard to imagine Brazil accepting such a scenario.
“From Venezuela we believe that we must take the agenda of shared economic development into our hands; a new financial architecture [that includes] the Bank of Structural Projects, that converts us into a powerful bloc,” he said to media in Guayaquil before the meeting with other UNASUR leaders.
Since the Venezuelan government has ruined its own economy, this is pretty comical. In any event, it is hard to imagine Chile, for example, wanting to expose itself to risk from Venezuela.
Nonetheless, starting with achievable goals would be beneficial for the region. In particular, it is good to have militaries start thinking more in regional terms. Defense transparency and confidence building is a laudable and reasonable goal.