The expression “Latin America” is
commonly used to refer to all countries on the American
continent with the exception of the USA and Canada. However,
there is no official “list” of “Latin American” countries
and the different sources of information differ slightly as
to which countries would actually be part of Latin America.
According to common sense, or the most used meaning, the
countries that make up “Latin America” would be those that
are part of South America, Central America and Mexico.
This definition is similar to that used by the UN,
however, from the classification generally used by it, the
Caribbean and Mexico are excluded, although they may appear
in other definitions by
On the other hand, some sources define “Latin America” as
the name given to the countries of the American continents
that were predominantly colonized by Latin countries (a name
given to European countries that emerged after the fall of
the Western Roman Empire and whose majority language, Latin
languages (for example: Spain, France, Portugal, Romania,
etc.) and where the official language is derived from Latin
(neo-Latin), such as Spanish, Portuguese and French.
According to this definition, they would not be part of
Latin America, besides the USA and Canada (although in
Canada the official languages are English and French and
the latter is the most spoken), Suriname and Guyana, both
colonized by England and Holland (countries of Germanic
origin) and whose official language is Dutch and English,
respectively. But this definition also includes some
Caribbean countries like Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican
Republic, which have Spanish or French as their official
The expression would have been used for the first time by
Napoleon III in the nineteenth century, at the same time
that the expression “Latin Europe” would have appeared to
designate the European countries with Neolatin language.
Other sources point to Michel Chevalier, who used the term
The use of the term was consolidated with the creation of
ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean) in 1948, by the Economic and Social Council of
the United Nations (ECOSOC) and from then on it was widely
used to name Latin countries Americans, albeit with some
The combination of all the countries of South and Central
America in a common denomination, however, cannot lead to a
misinterpretation that all these countries are equal. Be it
culturally, economically, or socially.
Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)
The Union of South American Nations,
also known by its acronym UNASUR, is a
South American regional integration organization that
currently comprises Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and
UNASUR was born out of a process that began with the
first South American summit meeting, in the late 1990s. In
the following years, most countries in the region had
governments aligned politically, which favored the
approximation of their countries. leaders and consequently
made the creation of the bloc even more concrete.
The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty was signed on May 23,
2008, at the Third Summit of Heads of State, held in
Brasilia, capital of Brazil. The Treaty defined the
installation of the headquarters of the General Secretariat
in Quito ( Ecuador ), the Parliament in Cochabamba (Bolivia)
and the seat of its bank, Banco do Sul, in Caracas
(Venezuela). The Summit also defined the first leadership to
temporarily hold the presidency of UNASUR, Michelle Bachelet,
President of Chile.
The implementation of UNASUR became possible only with
the parliamentary ratification of Uruguay in 2010, which
added Argentina, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana,
Suriname and Bolivia to form the group. Thus, UNASUR met the
requirement that provided that at least nine countries
ratify the agreement for the bloc to begin its activities.
In May 2010, in Campana, in the Argentine province of Buenos
Aires, Nestor Kirchner (President of Argentina) was
unanimously appointed as the first UNASUR General Secretary
for a period of two years.
As soon as UNASUR was formed, Colombia approved the
treaty, followed by Brazil and Paraguay, all still in 2011.
With that, the group reached the number of 12 member states.
UNASUR was created as a regional integration project,
aiming to build, in a participatory and collaborative way, a
space for integration and unity in the cultural, social,
economic, political and commercial areas among its members,
so as to take the first steps of greater integration in the
region, using political dialogue and social policies to
address issues related to education, energy, infrastructure,
financing and the environment, among others. Upon reaching
its objectives, the bloc seeks to eliminate socioeconomic
inequality, achieve social inclusion, promote greater
citizen participation and strengthen democracy.
The first major turmoil in the bloc occurred in 2012,
when Paraguay was suspended by the other members of UNASUR,
after which all member countries considered a coup against
Fernando Lugo's democratic government.
Years later, on April 20, 2018, it was announced that
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru would
suspend their participation in the organization due to the
situation of acefalia within the bloc. In August 2018,
Colombia announced that it would definitely leave the
organization due to UNASUR's political support for the
Venezuelan government. In the same vein, in March 2019,
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno declared that his country
would leave UNASUR immediately, due to the organization's
inefficiency. In addition, Peru maintained its suspension
espite the bloc's crisis, in 2018 the UNASUR Parliament
was inaugurated, built in Bolivia, however, since then the
group is practically inactive and elections have not been
held, so the building does not yet house parliamentarians.
Before that, in December 2014, the Néstor Kirchner Building
had already been inaugurated, with the objective of being
the headquarters of the UNASUR General Secretariat, in
Quito, Ecuador, but in 2019 the government of Ecuador, after
abandoning the organization, took office the building to use
it as the new headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of your country, deactivating it as the headquarters
Recently, due to the disintegration of UNASUR and amid
political instability in the region, a new bloc started to
be discussed as an alternative for the integration of South
American countries. In 2019, a meeting of leaders from South
American countries (except Venezuela) took place in
Santiago, Chile, where the creation of a new South American
organization, provisionally called PROSUL, was signaled.
However, due to political crises in countries like Chile
itself, in addition to Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela, the
direction that South American regional integration will take