SANTIAGO — Past and current conservative presidents of Latin America and Spain discussed freedom and democracy in the region on March 17. It was their first of many upcoming meetings as a newly established group. Some officials attended virtually.
Right-wing leaders of the new organization “Democracy and Freedom Group” met March 17 in Chile’s capital to discuss political situations across Latin America. The new bloc consists of officials and ex-officials from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Mexico, and Spain. Soon, the organization will invite other world politicians, academics, and civil society members to join.
“This group was born because we believe that it is absolutely necessary to get together and defend the freedom and democracy in our continent,” former Chile President Sebastián Piñera said.
The fresh, right-leaning group was created at a time when leftist leaders head the major countries in the region with the largest economies.
Leftist presidents Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Alberto Fernández of Argentina have been the heads of state of their respective countries for years now. Gabriel Boric, president of Chile, and Gustavo Petro, president of Colombia, stepped into their respective offices in 2022. Meanwhile, Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, also a leftist, won the presidency for a third term in 2023.
The new conservative bloc in the region may also be seen as a tit for tat move against the progressive “Puebla Group,” founded in 2019 by regional leftist leaders.
The conservative group “is born to stay, it is born to expand itself in the continent and to be included,” said Iván Duque, Colombia’s former president.
Agradecemos al Expresidente @sebastianPiñera por esta iniciativa del grupo #LibertadyDemocracia que nace para quedarse,para expandirse en el continente, para sacudirnos de la demagogia que con posverdad, populismo y polarización quiere amenazar orden constitucional del continente pic.twitter.com/lrwbzTjANX
— Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) March 17, 2023
Eleven presidents and ex-presidents established the organization in 2022.
The founding members are Duque and Andrés Pastrana, ex-presidents of Colombia; Guillermo Lasso, president of Ecuador; Jorge Quiroga, ex-president of Bolivia; Mario Abdo, president of Paraguay; Mauricio Macri, ex-president of Argentina; Sebastián Piñera, ex-president of Chile; Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox, ex-presidents of Mexico; José María Aznar and Mariano Rajoy, ex-presidents of Spain.
Pastrana, Piñera, and Quiroga attended the March 17 event in person at Universidad Andrés Bello Campus Casona in Las Condes. The rest of the officials participated virtually.
Chongyang Zhang is pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s program in journalism, media and globalisation. His interest lies in the relations among the United States, Latin America and China. He is currently doing an exchange semester at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.