South American leaders launch Prosur bloc to replace Unasur

A group of South American presidents has launched a new regional bloc to replace the Union of South American Nations that was promoted by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to counter U.S. influence in the region.

The Unasur group was started in 2008 when many of the founding nations were still led by leftists.

But enthusiasm for the group waned, especially under more moderate or conservative successor governments, and eventually the 12 nations suspended their memberships.

Leaders of the Prosur bloc launched Friday in the Chilean capital of Santiago said it will focus on defending democracy and freedom. It was started by the presidents of: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.

Chavez's successor, President Nicolas Maduro, was not invited not the meeting.