Andean Community nations push for Venezuela, Chile to return to bloc

By Thomson Reuters Aug 29, 2022 | 12:17 PM

LIMA (Reuters) – Representatives of the Andean Community bloc of nations – made up of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, said on Monday that they would like to bring Venezuela and Chile back into the group, as much of South America shifts left.

Those two nations are “fundamental allies of the bloc,” said Colombian foreign minister Alvaro Leyva during a meeting of the group in Lima.

Venezuela and Chile “can contribute to building and advancing the technical objectives and regional agendas that will decidedly allow us to build a robust Andean bloc,” Leyva added.

Both countries were once members. Venezuela left in the early 2000s under the socialist presidency of Hugo Chavez, while Chile was a founding member but left in 1976 during the right-wing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

South America has shifted left more recently, with left-wing governments taking over in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Chile since 2020. Ecuador, led by right-wing Guillermo Lasso, is now the outlier in the group.

The bloc presidents are in Lima on Monday, with Lasso set to pass on the presidency of the Andean Community to Peruvian President Pedro Castillo.

The three bloc presidents are scheduled to speak at the event later on Monday.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Miguel Rodriguez Mackay also said he’d like Argentina to join the group. Argentina, led by center-left Alberto Fernandez, has not previously been a member of the group.

The chancellors of Bolivia and Colombia, however, did not discuss whether they would ask Argentina to join.

(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Andrea Ricci)