Peru removes army chief, ends 125-year dispute with Chile?

Peru’s President Alan García declared that his nation’s long dispute with Chile was over Dec. 5 after removing his army chief Gen. Edwin Donayre, who caused outrage with an anti-Chilean tirade that surfaced on YouTube. In the video, Donayre told a social gathering: “The Chilean that enters [Peru] doesn’t leave, or he leaves in a coffin; if there aren’t enough coffins, they’ll leave in plastic bags.” Chile initially said it would accept an apology from García, but Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley later demanded Donayre’s removal. Donayre defended his comments, telling local media they were made in private and “only express the feelings of every soldier who loves his homeland.”

García initially downplayed the remarks, saying they were not made in an official context. But he later admitted that the words “were not nice,” even in private, as “a general commander with weapons.” After removing Donayre, García said the move means “there’s nothing more to talk about” in the Chile dispute. Gen. Otto Guibovich, who replaced Donayre, pledged that the army will “never again must interfere on political issues.”

Many Peruvians still resent the loss of a stretch of coastline to Chile in the 1879-84 War of the Pacific. In January 2008, Peru brought suit against Chile before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague over the location of their maritime border. Peru demanded control of a 37,900-square-kilometer stretch of the Pacific extending southwest from its coast at Concordia, a point just above the Chilean border, citing the 1929 Lima Treaty between the two countries. Chile argues that two bilateral accords signed in 1952 and 1954 established a maritime boundary following an east-west parallel line extending directly into the Pacific. Peru maintains that the 1952 and 1954 treaties were only agreements on fishing rights, and accused Chile of “grabbing” Peruvian waters. “Deeply lamenting” Peru’s filing of the lawsuit, Chile recalled its ambassador from Lima. (AP, Xinhua, Dec. 6; Xinhua, Jan. 18;, 2007)

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