Buenos Aires has solidified its support and solidarity with Caracas. In the Venezuelan capital, where anti-government protests have triggered violence over the past weeks, the country’s biggest ally, Argentina has come out to stand with the oil rich country in South America’s northwest corner.
Argentine Cabinet Chief, Jorge Capitanich, said Tuesday night on Buenos Aires television, “any conspiratorial attitude in Venezuela poses a threat to all South American democracies.”
Capitanich’s statement went on to call the brutal administration of Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, “Legitimate and legal.” Capitanich said that Argentina stands ready to do whatever it can do to help stop the “conspiratorial” attacks. “Any attitude of a conspiratorial nature or manipulation of public opinion that discredit the right to exercise the government is an affront to all democracies in the region,” Capitanich added.
In standing by Venezuela, Argentina is joining the rest of the continent. UNASUR, Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, issued a statement Tuesday firmly condemning the violence in Venezuela and called for the “preservation of institutions and democratic” ideals.
Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, or UNASUR, integrates two existing national alliances, Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations. In other words, UNASUR is roughly the South American equivalent of NATO. An alliance of all but two countries in South America, UNASUR strives to co-ordinate the life, work and efforts of all things South American.
The UNASUR Treaty was signed on May 23, 2008, in Brazil. The headquarters are located in Quito, Ecuador and on December 1, 2010, Uruguay became the ninth state to ratify the treaty. The joint South American Parliament is located in Cochabamba, Bolivia and the financial center rests in the Bank of the South, located in Caracas.
Venezuela and Brazil proposed to UNASUR member countries the formation of the South American Defense Council, CDS, to serve as a method for regional security. Working to promote military unity, co-operation and regional defense, the founding countries claim they do not intend to form a NATO-like alliance, but rather a cooperative security arrangement.
Colombia, a strong ally with the United States, at first refused to join the CDS. After reviewing the proposal, Colombia stepped along side its South American neighbors in July 2008.
A rising star in the opposition movement inside Venezuela, and a strong antagonist of UNASUR, is Leopolodo Lopez. Lopez, 43, is a long-time Venezuelan politician and economist. Mayor of Chacao from 2000 until 2008, Lopez started working as a social activist for grass-roots leading opposition against former President Hugo Chavez.
Lopez surrendered to national police after addressing a crowd of tens of thousands on February 18.
Lopez, educated at Harvard, has been accused by Maduro’s government for encouraging the anti-government protests in recent history. In his speech to the crowds, Lopez denied the charges and said he was surrendering to a corrupt justice system as a method of promoting non-violent reform.
“I have nothing to hide,” said Lopez. “This is the first step in the construction of the road for change and it must be a peaceful process.”
More protests are expected today in Caracas and many people in Argentina will be watching closely. While the Argentine government supports Maduro, it also is afraid that the violence in Venezuela may spread southeasterly into the continent’s second largest country.
By Jerry Nelson