By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) -The presidents of the nations making up the Andean Community – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia – said on Monday they would like Venezuela, Chile and Argentina to join the group as much of South America shifts left.
“If we manage to integrate Chile, Venezuela and Argentina…I think this would significantly change things and our voice would be heard much more clearly on the world stage,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro said.
The presidents were in Lima on Monday for a meeting as Ecuador passes on the bloc’s presidency to Peru.
Petro’s remarks are also his first on a foreign tour after taking over the presidency earlier this month.
The desire to expand the Andean Community comes as much of South America has shifted left. Since 2020, left-wing governments have taken over in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Chile. Ecuador, led by right-wing Guillermo Lasso, is now the outlier in the group.
Venezuela and Chile were once members, while Argentina has never joined.
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.
“I would like to express the importance it would have for the Andean Community, and the benefits for its members, to have Chile and Venezuela rejoin,” Peruvian President Pedro Castillo said at the event.
“And why not think about a sub-regional integration around the idea of the Andean fatherland that includes our sister Republic of Argentina, with which we share not just the Andes but also a shared heritage,” Castillo added.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Angus MacSwan)