The 2004 South American Summit – the third of its kind, after earlier events in Brasília (September 2000) and Guayaquil (July 2002) – was held in Cuzco and Ayacucho, Peru, on 7 –9 December 2004. Officially it constituted the Extraordinary Meeting of the Andean Presidential Council (Reunión Extraordinaria del Consejo Presidencial Andino ) and was also billed as the Third Meeting of Presidents of South America (III Reunión de Presidentes de América del Sur).
The main item on the agenda was the signature, by heads of state and plenipotentiary representatives of 12 South American nations, of the Cuzco Declaration, a two-page document containing a preamble to the deed of foundation of the South American Community of Nations (or "South American Union"), uniting the region's two existing free-trade organisations – Mercosur and the Andean Community.
Ayacucho was chosen for symbolic reasons: it was there that Antonio José de Sucre, fighting under the banner of Simón Bolívar "the Liberator", defeated the last Imperial Spanish troops in South America on 9 December 1824.
While the organisation's exact nature and functions – and even its name – remain unclear, it aspires to evolve along the lines followed by the continental integration efforts of the European Union, rather than becoming a mere free-trade area. The initiative emerged – largely at the instigation of Brazil – in response to the failed negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA process has been stalemated for more than 12 months in the wake of irreconcilable differences, largely along the geopolitical faultlines between Latin America and the Caribbean on the one hand and the United States and Canada on the other.