Under Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's watch, Brazil became an economic and political powerhouse in the region. The country has taken a leadership position in pushing forward IIRSA projects, initiating conversations with Bolivia for a transoceanic highway. Although continuing to participate in IIRSA projects, other countries in the region are unhappy about what they see as Brazil's expanding dominance
Above, South American presidents gather for a UNASUR summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in December, 2006. Presidents from left to right are Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay.