The leaders of 12 South American countries have signed a treaty to create a regional bloc modelled on the European Union. The agreement to establish the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) is aimed at boosting economic integration and political cohesion. Brazil’s President Lula da Silva said the move shows that South America was becoming a global player.
But tensions between several members will make it difficult for the union to achieve its goals, say observers. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is engaged in a bitter diplomatic row with Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe, an ally of the United States, over Colombian claims that Venezuela has been financing the activities of Colombia’s FARC rebels.