A total of USD 284,000 is required per year to maintain the building occupied by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in the tourist sector of the Middle of the World, north of Quito.
The amount includes cleaning expenses, revision of elevators and escalators, as well as the payment of drinking water services, electric power, Internet, fixed and cellular telephony.
After a month, the invoices total USD 23 660. The four-story building remains half-empty. The only occupants are 31 people, mostly dedicated to administrative tasks: the director of cooperation, the head of human talent, the head of the office of legal advice, a secretary, a driver … And despite the fact that almost two years have elapsed months since the president, Lenin Moreno, announced that he will ask Unasur for the return of the property to install an intercultural university there, none of the tenants has received so far a trade or communication on that decision.
The chancellor, José Valencia, ratified a week ago that talks are already under way with members of the agency to move the headquarters to other facilities, to a smaller building, although he did not provide more details.
For former Colombian President Ernesto Samper, who held the General Secretariat of Unasur between 2014 and 2017, reversing the ownership of the property is something that “is not legally possible.” “The only possibility that (the building) returned to the hands of the Government of Ecuador is to dissolve Unasur, which I hope will not happen,” he told EL COMERCIO.
This newspaper, however, had access to the deed of donation of the property that dates from December 15, 2016 and rests in the Tenth Notary of Quito canton. There are the signatures of Samper and the then Ecuadorian chancellor Guillaume Long. The document establishes three conditions for the ownership of the property, valued at USD 39 474 515, to be reverted in favor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador.
One of them is that the regional body is extinguished. The other two are that Ecuador denounces the Constitutive Treaty and leaves the group, something that is not among the plans of the Government; or that the member countries decide to change the headquarters of the General Secretariat of Unasur to another country. In this last case, Samper emphasizes that a consensus of all its members is required, something that it has been impossible for the group to even appoint a new Secretary General, for which that international organization has been responsible for a year and a half. “I believe that the consensus was the blessing for Unasur to be born and now it is a curse for him to go ahead,” the politician said.
The expectation is now focused on a meeting of Unasur coordinators that, according to Foreign Minister Valencia, will take place this month in Uruguay. There Ecuador plans to present a proposal to rescue the agency from the crisis. Valencia said that the plan will consist in reducing the “excessive scaffolding” of the Executive Secretariat, redefining its competences and strengthening the issues of regional interest.
“There are concrete actions and we believe they are very positive in terms of infrastructure interconnection, natural disasters, public health,” the diplomat said. The appointment will be given five months after six of the 12 member countries of this body (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Paraguay) decided to suspend their participation until a new Secretary General is appointed, replacing the Colombian Samper.
In addition, Colombia went a step further on August 27 when it denounced the Constitutive Treaty of Unasur, that is, to formalize its decision to withdraw from the group. The president of that country, Iván Duque, said that he left that organization because of “his silence and complicity” with the “dictatorship” of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, at a time when that country is going through a humanitarian crisis that has generated a wave of immigration towards other countries.
Disengagement is a process that takes six months. Samper, one of the most frequent supporters of this project, hopes that Colombia reconsiders the decision to leave this group at that time. Another country that is considering its permanence is Chile. Roberto Ampuero, Minister of Foreign Affairs of that country, considered that UNASUR “is a corpse and does not meet its objectives.”
For his part, Manuel Castillo, political empowerment leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), said he had met with diplomatic officials of Venezuela, who told him that they had “concerns” about the future of the headquarters of the Unasur. Castillo noted that, beyond the controversy generated by the use of that building, what interests this indigenous organization is that the creation of the university is completed.
In July, Assemblyman Fernando Callejas (Creo) asked the Comptroller’s Office to review the public funds that were used for the construction as for your donation. Milestones in the functioning of the Union of South American Nations May 23, 2008 The Constitutive Treaty of Unasur was approved, in which Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and the Parliament of Cochabamba, Bolivia, were designated permanent headquarters of the General Secretariat.
December 5, 2014
With the presence of the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, the headquarters of this organization in the Middle of the World was inaugurated.
April 20, 2018
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru suspended their participation in Unasur, after the block did not reach a consensus to appoint a new general secretary.
July 5, 2018
The president, Lenin Moreno, announced that he will request the return of the property. “It is absurd that a building that costs several tens of millions of dollars is without any use,” he argued.
Unasur was created in 2008 by 12 countries in the region, as a mechanism to develop proposals and integration programs. For the last year and a half, there has been a lack of consensus to appoint the Secretary General. (I)