One hundred and seventy four years after independence leader Simón Bolívar’s dream of Latin American integration came crashing down, it has suddenly resurfaced finding its way into Rio Group discussions taking place this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Heads of state from 18 Latin American countries held meetings on a wide array of topics, leading to several ambitious declarations addressing everything from poverty to political and economic unification.

Integration has resurfaced as Latin American countries attempt to counter-balance the economic weight of the United States, and the European Union. Arising out of an agreement between South America’s two main regional trade-blocks: Mercosur and the Andean Community, the proposed South American Community of Nations would have a population of 360 million, and a gross domestic product of $800 billion, reports Bloomberg News.

However, concerns that the proposed economic and political union’s largest member, both in terms of population and economic clout, would wield undue influence have yet to be laid to rest. Brazil accounts for over 50% of the proposed community’s population, and 60% of their combined GDP.

In reference to the Rio Group’s simultaneous call for increased efforts to combat hunger, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez commented, “Saying it is quite easy, but doing it-how, within the framework of the capitalist system?” “Impossible,” continued Chávez, “vain illusions, Quijotes de la Manchas, we must first change our political models for real popular, participatory, egalitarian democracies, where everyone is considered equal in practice, and not only in rhetoric.”

The question ties in closely to planned integration. If the proposed political and economic union is to “strengthen the region in its trade negotiations with developed countries,” as Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim suggests, it is not clear where the new community would find the economic or political space in which to address the region’s untenable degree of poverty.

President Chávez argues that the capitalist model must be replaced with a social one, “the human economy, that produces wealth for equal distribution among all, according to the dreams of Christ, Bolívar, Ché (Guevara), Pancho Villa, San Martín and others.”

Other issues on the Rio Summit’s agenda are the crisis in Haiti and a resolution urging political actors in Venezuela to respect the recent electoral results of the referendum and the regional elections.