by Edgardo Loguercio
BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Economy and finance ministers and central bankers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) met in Argentina on Thursday to discuss ways to strengthen the bloc and fend off the global economic crisis.
The meeting, which will end on Friday, is expected to name the directors of a program called the Task Force on Financial Integration (FTIG) among its member states, and sign a document that defines a common position approved by the regional group.
South American presidents had strongly supported the political initiative when they met two weeks ago in Lima, Peru, for the inauguration of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala.
This was the first time South American leaders made a joint response to the global economic crisis, and it was also the first time that Unasur, which usually plays an important role in solving political crises, sounded a common voice in the economic area.
Humala's victory in Peru's presidential election strengthened the bloc's independence from the United States. In the past years, Colombia and Peru were among the South American countries that had the closest links with Washington.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff defined this measure as "a winning strategy" that defends "sustainable development with a social content which has ended up including millions of workers as consumers."
After meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez ten days ago, Rousseff said the regional market, which embraces 400 million people, had to be protected.
She also stressed the importance of regional political unity to confront the United States and Europe that are having difficulty in finding solutions to their debt crises.
"There is a big difference with other parts of the world that are submerged in recession and suffer from political immobility in making decisions. We should defend our countries from excessive liquidity and the invasion of manufactured products that cannot be sold in other countries," Rousseff said.
On the eve of his departure to Buenos Aires, Colombian Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry proposed cementing the Andean Development Corporation by including Mexico and all members of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), into the Latin American Reserve Fund, created by Andean countries.