LatAm countries express concern over proposed US-Mexican border wall

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-27 15:57

RIO DE JANEIRO/LA PAZ/QUITO -- Latin American countries and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on Thursday expressed concern over US President Donald Trump's decision to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

"Most countries in Latin America maintain close friendly ties with the people of the United States. Because of that, the Brazilian government is concerned about the idea of building a wall to separate sister nations on our continent, without a consensus between them," the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also encouraged such matters to be resolved through dialogue instead of isolationist measures.

"Brazil has always worked with the firm belief that matters between friendly peoples, as is the case with the United States and Mexico, should be resolved through dialogue and the construction of spaces of understanding," the government said.

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday called on embattled Mexico to look southward and help strengthen Latin American integration.

"I call on our Mexican brothers to look more towards the south, to jointly build unity based on our (shared) Latin American and Caribbean heritage," Morales posted on Twitter.

The message comes just hours after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled an upcoming meeting with his US counterpart amid a bilateral dispute over the latter's decision to erect a wall along the US-Mexican border.

After months of pledging to erect a wall between the United States and Mexico, Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to "build a large physical barrier on the southern border."

The order was signed as two high-level Mexican envoys were in Washington to prepare for the two leaders' meeting.

Trump said the wall is needed to keep out illegal migration and drug trafficking, though experts said it would not solve those problems.

The UNASUR issued a scathing criticism over the US decision. The organization gathers countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In a statement from the bloc's headquarters in Quito, UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper rejected the proposal as "humiliating" for Mexicans and Trump's stance as defiant."

"I express my rejection of the defiant decision adopted by the new president of the United States to impose on the Mexican people the humiliating obligation of paying, and the even more humiliating wall intended to be built to physically separate the United States and Canada from Mexico and Latin America," Samper said.

On Thursday, Trump floated the idea of slapping a 20-percent tax on Mexican imports to finance the wall.

Samper added UNASUR was "concerned by the tension in hemispheric relations, resulting from these types of measures, which affect the security and quality of life of our fellow citizens residing in the United States."

Deteriorating relations may also affect other developments in the region, including a peace process in Colombia and rapprochement with Cuba, he said.

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