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By Dr. Edgardo Condeza Vaccaro
The beginning of the union and integration of the countries in peace, will probably be considered in the future as the most important and positive event of the 20th century. Throughout history, the annexation of countries, the formation of Empires, the existence of colonies, had been carried out within the framework of warlike conflicts, powerful invading or subduing the weakest, suffering and wars.
Today, a flag with 15 stars symbolizes the integration of the countries of the European Union and the passports establish that the citizen is, in addition to German or French, a European Community citizen. What made this hopeful achievement possible in countries historically and culturally divided by their language, religion, ethnic and cultural traits, in which war conflicts raged endlessly through the centuries? Basically a humanist conception and a determined political will.
It is as a consequence of the barbarism of the Second World War, which involved the most developed countries on the planet, that the initial steps of the European Union are taken. Its initial and explicit objective was that in the future, through the unity of these countries, a third world war would be materially impossible.
Jean Monnet, French, general manager of the post-war economic plan, together with Schumann, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, propose an audacious but concrete project: to create a community that, under a high common authority, would allow joint German and French production of coal and steel, fundamental materials for the war industry of the time, open to the participation of other European countries. From this common production, the customs union, the common market, common taxes, common actions related to energy, research, education, technology transfer, defense of the environment, free movement of citizens and capital are planned later. , use of a common currency.
As an ideal for the future, Latin Americans are pioneers in this. The intertwined common history of our countries was the fruit of men like Bolívar. They dedicated their lives to both freedom and integration.
Latin American countries inherit a history with solid foundations to be able to easily achieve a process of unity: from Mexico to Cape Horn, languages, religions, cultures and similar histories. There is no other group of countries in the world that, being neighbors and occupying an entire continent as a geographical space, have this privilege.
In Latin America, unity is much more necessary and urgent than in Europe:
-We constitute a population of 450 million people.
- Our per capita product is up to 10 times lower than the European average, poverty affects more than 40% of its inhabitants
- The unity of Latin America is closely linked to peace. The integration of our countries would make unnecessary the existence of military expenses that should be used in health, education, work, housing ...
- Latin American unity is the only way we can consistently face the challenge of the world economy and the protectionist barriers of industrialized countries, as well as allow a dynamic flow of trade and production between our economies.
- Along with this, the necessary de facto solidarity that integration produces, would make it possible to stop the increase in differences between the poorest countries in the region. In the E.U., the richest region was 6 times more than the poorest and there special funds and programs were established to overcome this inequality.
- One of the characteristics of the less economically developed countries is the centralist character that stifles regional initiatives. By integrating, the relationship and communications between the extensive borders of our countries, between neighboring regions, are specified and enriched, favoring decentralization.
If unity in the richest countries on earth has been necessary to improve life, for us it is an imperative. We are far behind in this humanistic and constructive mission. In Colombia and later in Argentina, countries in which I lived in exile, there was always that Latin American warmth, making us feel that we were at home. The exile increased our aspiration for a bigger homeland without borders. The construction of the Latin American Union seems natural, possible and, above all, urgent.
Our Government is making a mistake. There are no economic, historical, or cultural reasons for the attempt that is being made to privilege the Free Trade Agreement of our country with the United States or with the European Union, over unity with the rest of the Latin American countries. Only this previous Latin American Union will allow us to face relations with the powers of the United States and the European Union, obtaining more just, possible and favorable results for our countries.
Governments have a duty to consult citizens. It is the most democratic and concrete way to accelerate this integration process.
On the occasion of the XV Meeting in Chile of the Rio Group, it is necessary to develop a deep humanist vocation and a determined political will of our Government to unite the countries of Latin America. Not only economically, financially or commercially, but in all dimensions of life.
Integration is the best deterrent to war.
It is not just theory, Europe is living it. The destiny of humanity is their union. In a still distant future, there will be a single World Government, unitary and respectful of different cultures and identities.
Concepción, Chile, August 2001
* Dr. Edgardo Condeza Vaccaro
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ETHICAL HUMANISM AND CHANGE