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Cablegate: Peru Takes Chile Border Dispute to the Hague

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DE RUEHPE #0072/01 0152255
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 152255Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7654
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1880
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5420
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7717
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3234
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0997
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JAN 4686
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9400
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1679
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1682
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 0941
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000072

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR CI PE
SUBJECT: PERU TAKES CHILE BORDER DISPUTE TO THE HAGUE

Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B)

1. (C) Summar
id: 137434
date: 1/15/2008 22:55
refid: 08LIMA72
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #0072/01 0152255
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 152255Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7654
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 1880
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5420
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7717
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3234
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0997
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JAN 4686
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9400
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1679
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1682
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 0941
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY


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C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000072

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR CI PE
SUBJECT: PERU TAKES CHILE BORDER DISPUTE TO THE HAGUE

Classified By: POL/C ALEXIS LUDWIG FOR REASONS 1.4 (B)

1. (C) Summary: The GOP plans shortly to submit to the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague its legal
brief in support of adjusting Peru's maritime border with
Chile. The Peru-Chile boundary dispute dates to the 19th
Century War of the Pacific when the victorious Chile seized a
substantial chunk of southern Peru. Since the war, most of
the land border has been successfully delineated, but debate
over the maritime boundary continues to animate Peruvian
nationalists, eager politicians and others. While Chile's
position is that there is no dispute, Peru believes that a
formal agreement is needed to settle the maritime boundary
matter definitively. Officials in Peru's border regions and
in the Foreign Ministry stress the broad positive
relationship with Chile and hope the Hague process will
resolve a thorny issue that has prevented further
integration. Peruvian officials also believe they will win
concessions at the Hague, and the recent appointment of
former Defense (and Foreign) Minister Alan Wagner to oversee
the GOP's case at the Hague underscores the seriousness of
Peru's intentions. Some officials justify their optimism by
citing the October 2007 ICJ decision to resolve a similar
Nicaragua-Honduras maritime dispute by splitting the two
countries' claims down the middle. End Summary.

Roots of the Maritime Dispute
-----------------------------
2. (U) Peru has disputed its border with Chile periodically
since the War of the Pacific (1879-1884), when Chile seized a
large piece of what was then southern Peruvian territory.
The two parties demarcated their shared land border in a 1929
treaty, starting from "a point on the coast denominated
'Concordancia', located 10 kilometers north of the Lluta
River bridge, continuing eastward parallel to and ten
kilometers north of the Chilean section of the Arica-La Paz
railroad". In accordance with the treaty, a bilateral
commission established a series of boundary markers called
"hitos" to delineate the border. Hito 1 is located several
hundred meters inland, within sight of the Concordancia (on
the shoreline where the land meets the sea); subsequent
'hitos' extend northeastward through the desert into the
interior. These 'hitos' and the terrestrial borderline they
describe are undisputed.

3. (U) The 1929 treaty, however, did not explicitly discuss
the maritime border. Peru and Chile eventually addressed
this issue implicitly in two fishing agreements in 1952 and
1954. In the first accord, the parties agreed to respect
their neighbors' sovereign rights over a zone of 200 nautical
miles extending from each country's shore. In the second,
they agreed to establish a band on either side of a "maritime
border" where boats could move freely in order to protect
innocent fishermen that accidentally crossed into the
neighboring country's sovereign waters. The 1954 agreement
established this band along the "parallel that constitutes
the maritime limit between the two countries." That is, for
the purposes of fishing vessels from either country that
strayed into the territorial waters of the other, the
agreement tacitly recognized Peru and Chile's maritime border
as a line projecting westward into the ocean along a
geographical lateral (latitide parallel). In joint protocols
in 1968 and 1969, Peru and Chile confirmed this
interpretation and explicitly established "Hito 1" as the
point of departure for the maritime border.

4. (SBU) In the absence of a formal treaty describing the
maritime boundary between Chile and Peru, Chile observes the
boundary implicitly described in the 1954 fishing agreement
and elaborated in 1968-1967 protocols. For this reason, it
has become and remains Chile's contention that there is no
maritime boundary dispute with Peru. By contrast, Peru
contends that the 1952 and 1954 fishing agreements were never
intended to establish the formal maritime boundary between
the two countries, and do not do so now. Peru believes that
a formal agreement explicitly describing this maritime
boundary is needed to settle the matter once and for all. In
that sense, the core disagreement is whether there is a
dispute at all, with Peru claiming 'yes' and Chile saying
'no.'
5. (SBU) Many Peruvians further argue that the informal
maritime boundary established in the 1954 fishing agreement
unfairly favors Chile because Peru's landmass north of the
parallel juts westward into the Pacific; as a result, Chile
holds sovereignty over a larger maritime zone, including
coastal waters "in front of" Peru's land mass. (One Peruvian
living near the border told Poloff the parallel runs so close
to land that in some areas one steps off Peruvian soil into
Chilean waters.) Peru argues that the maritime border should
begin at the point of Concordancia -- rather than Hito 1 --
and travel southwest along a line equidistant between Chilean
and Peruvian land (rather than along the established
lateral). Peru says this is the solution prescribed by
international law and the implicit intention of the 1929
treaty, which cannot be overridden by a separate agreement on
fishing rights. In arguing for an equidistant line, Peru
claims an additional 37,900 square kilometers of maritime
sovereignty. In arguing that the line should depart from the
point of Concordancia rather than the Hito 1 -- ocated
slightly north and inland from the Concordancia -- Peru also
claims a small triangle of 37,000 square meters of barren
coastal land.

A Nationalist Issue
-------------------
6. (SBU) Peruvian politicians regularly exploit the border
dispute to appeal to the population's nationalist sentiments.
In 2004 then-President Alejandro Toledo, as his poll numbers
dropped to single digits, stirred up the border dispute by
publicly calling on Chile to open negotiations. In November
2005, Toledo signed a law, unanimously passed by Congress,
unilaterally re-establishing the maritime border in accord
with Peru's claim. In April 2007, Nationalist Party (PNP)
leader Ollanta Humala, along with politicians from the Tacna
border region, organized a protest march to the disputed
border. In conjunction with the march, PNP congressman
Juvenal Ordonez published a flyer titled "Chile Usurps Our
Sea and Land" that outlined the conflict and criticized
Chile's "expansionist vocation". In June 2007, when Tacna
Regional President Hugo Ordonez (brother of Juvenal) welcomed
the Chilean Ambassador to lay flowers in homage to Peruvian
war heroes, a popular local radio station called out
anti-Chilean protestors to burn the flowers.

Cross-Border Commerce and Integration Continues
--------------------------------------------- --
7. (C) Tacna Regional President Ordonez stressed to poloff
that, despite the maritime dispute, cross border trade with
Chile is increasing rapidly. He noted the large numbers of
Chileans who cross the border daily to find inexpensive
bookstores, pharmacies, doctors, optometrists, dentists, and
casinos in Tacna city. He also highlighted the success of
Tacna's duty free "Zona Franca", which allows the import of
electronics, alcohol, and used cars via the port in the
Chilean town Arica. Peru's consul in Arica has publicly
stressed the positive relations between authorities and
residents along both side of the border and described the
Nationalist Party protest in April as serving only to
"disturb the peace existing in this zone." Our Foreign
Ministry contacts also emphasize positive bilateral
cooperation and highlight the success of a series of biannual
border conferences held between representatives of the two
countries.

Comment: Not Just Political Posturing
-------------------------------------
8. (C) Peru's appeal to the ICJ enjoys broad political and
popular support, and represents more than a simple banging on
the political drums or continued crying over historical spilt
milk. Political party and civil society representatives from
across the spectrum met January 10 under the auspices of the
National Accord to approve the GOP's plan. Moreover,
Peruvian officials appear to believe Peru's legal case is
compelling. Some have privately said they expect the court
to draw a new maritime boundary that splits the difference
between the two countries' claims, as it did in the
Honduras-Nicaragua dispute. Rather than an attempt to
further politicize or publicize the case, President Garcia's
recent appointment of former Defense and Foreign Minister
Alan Wagner to direct Peru's efforts in The Hague can be read
as a signal of the GOP's commitment to see the issue through
in earnest. In a best case scenario, the successful and
impartial resolution of the maritime boundary issue,
supported by both countries, would take away a blunt
instrument wielded by political opportunists and radical
nationalists to pressure and intimidate the government of the
day. This could pave the way to a more robust bilateral
integration that overcomes the longstanding impediments of
history.
NEALON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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