Guyana president cancels attendance at UNASUR summit in Ecuador

DonaldRamotar-4Quito, Ecuador — Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar will remain at home due to political turmoil after he suspended the national assembly last month to avoid a vote on a motion of no confidence brought by the combined opposition parties, as well as controversy over his use of a private jet that was seized in Puerto Rico last month after it was discovered to be carrying a large amount of undeclared US currency.

Instead, the Guyana delegation to Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) summit that begins on Friday in Ecuador will be led by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds. The delegation will also include Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Guyana’s UNASUR ambassador, Audrey Waddell.

A press release last week from UNASUR’s headquarter in Ecuador had confirmed Ramotar’s attendance. However, with the political crisis in Guyana deepening after the opposition’s rejection of the president’s invitation to hold dialogue and last week’s revelation that Ramotar on three occasions used the services of Exec Jet Club, whose CEO was arrested last week in Puerto Rico with US$620,000 in undeclared currency, Ramotar has urgent matters to attend to in Georgetown

Further regional integration will dominate the agenda of the upcoming summit according to Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa. This means that two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members of UNASUR, Guyana and Suriname, which historically have been isolated from South America, will be further integrated in the region as the South American bloc advances towards a common passport.

UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper has stated that one proposal that will be discussed is the creation of a common South American passport to better facilitate the movement of people.

The upcoming summit will be held in Ecuador, with the first day of activities in Guayaquil and the second day in the capital of Quito, where the new headquarters will be inaugurated, according to a press release from UNASUR.

The organization has opted to name the building after former Argentine president and the first secretary general of UNASUR, Nestor Kirchner.

Officially launched in 2008, the 12-nation regional bloc has a combined population of 400 million people and an economy of over US$4 trillion.

Correa said that the “inauguration of this majestic work… will be the launching of the integrationist process because it is important to have a functional building and a team working full time on integration.”

The summit will be attended by the leaders of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela, as well other representatives and observers from other non-member nations including Haiti. The meeting will also see the transfer of the UNASUR presidency from Suriname to Uruguay.

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