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Cablegate: Border Issues in Northern Chile: Disputes,

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1042/01 3331946
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281946Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4001
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 3647
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 2190
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0551
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 1157
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1858
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV 6033
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5824
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1999
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SANTIAGO 001042

SIPDIS

PM/RSAT FOR JEFF BURNETT
PENTAGON FOR KRISTI HUNT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2018
TAGS: PBTS MARR SNAR KTIA PREL CI PE BL
SUBJECT: BORDER ISSUES IN NORTHERN CHILE: DISPUTES,
DEFENSE PL...


id: 180591
date: 11/28/2008 19:46
refid: 08SANTIAGO1042
origin: Embassy Santiago
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 08SANTIAGO931|08SANTIAGO942
header:
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1042/01 3331946
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281946Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4001
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 3647
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 2190
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0551
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 1157
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1858
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV 6033
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5824
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1999
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SANTIAGO 001042

SIPDIS

PM/RSAT FOR JEFF BURNETT
PENTAGON FOR KRISTI HUNT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2018
TAGS: PBTS MARR SNAR KTIA PREL CI PE BL
SUBJECT: BORDER ISSUES IN NORTHERN CHILE: DISPUTES,
DEFENSE PLANS, AND DRUG TRAFFICKING

REF: A. SANTIAGO 931
B. SANTIAGO 942

Classified By: E/Pol Chief Juan Alsace for reasons 1.4 (a) and (b).

1. (C) SUMMARY: A contested border and drug trafficking can
sometimes bedevil relations between Chile and Peru on a
national level, while on a local level, officials from
communities on both sides of the border appear committed to
cooperation. Government officials in the northern Chilean
border town of Arica report cooperation with their Bolivian
colleagues is more difficult due to frequent staff changes.
Arican government leaders claim Chile's defense plans
essentially call for abandoning the city in the event of an
attack from the north, and instead creating a hardline to
Arica's south at, the port city of Iquique. While mistaken
according to embassy defense sources, this perception is
indicative of the disconnect from Santiago many Aricans feel.
END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Poloff met with elected officials, law enforcement
officers, business leaders, press, academic officials, and
indigenous leaders during an October trip to the Arica and
Parinacota region of northern Chile. Ref A reported on
economic issues in the region, Ref B described local
political challenges, including corruption and relations with
the indigenous Aymara.

All Eyes on Maritime Dispute
----------------------------

3. (SBU) Despite overall good relations with their Peruvian
neighbors in Tacna, Aricans were united in decrying Peru's
decision to take their maritime border dispute to the Hague.
Peru claims its maritime border with Chile should follow the
trajectory of the land border, angling down to the southwest.
In contrast, the current maritime border runs parallel to
longitudinal lines, giving Chile control over nearly 40,000
square kilometers of valuable fishing areas that Peru now
claims. Diputado Ivan Paredes, a member of the Socialist
Party, claimed Peru was being hypocritical by demanding a new
maritime border, noting Peru benefits from having its
maritime border with Ecuador follow longitudinal lines rather
than the trajectory of the land border. Paredes was
dismissive of Peruvian and Bolivian border claims, saying
politicians in those countries find it expedient to appeal to
nationalist pride and populist tendencies by calling for
revised borders regardless of the validity of the claims.
Poloff detected a sense among Aricans that the court case is
far away and hard to influence, and a quiet confidence that
Chile will come out on top.

Arica Left Out of Chilean Defense Plans?
----------------------------------------

4. (C) Both Diputado Paredes and District Attorney Jorge
Valladares told Poloff Arica is left out of Chile's plans to
defend the northern border in the case of an attack.
According to the two government officials, the military
determined that it would be too difficult to defend the city
given the many gorges nearby. Instead, the military has
planned for a hardline north of Iquique, and has stationed
most of its F-16s there. (Note: DAO reports that, of
Chile's fleet of 28 F-16s, the ten newest ones, which were
purchased from the U.S., are based in Iquique. Basing these
planes further north would expose them to risk from ground
artillery. End Note.) Neither Paredes or Valladares were
particularly troubled by this, remarking armed conflict is
unlikely and that, in any case, Arica works hard to maintain
favorable relations with Peru. (Comment: While it is true
that Arica is geographically difficult to defend, Chilean
ground forces have no intention of abandoning the city in the
unlikely event that it is attacked, according to DAO sources.
Two regiments--a reinforced infantry brigade and the first
combined arms brigade, one of the two elite operational units
in the Chilean army--are based in Arica. There are also
reinforced ground positions near Arica that could be used to
help defend the city. End Comment.)

5. (SBU) Chile is also working to eliminate landmines in the
region, which were planted along the borders with Peru and
Bolivia during the Pinochet era. The Chilean government
reported that in May 2008, the latest date for which
statistics were available, there were 106,894 landmines in
the country--including some in southern Chile near the
Argentine border. While Chile had initially committed to
eliminating its landmines by 2012, the government now says
this is not possible. Locals in Arica were not particularly
bothered by the slow pace of removal, noting that only one or
two Aricans are injured by landmines each year. (Note: See
IIR 6817001509 for more information on demining efforts in
northern Chile. End Note.)

Drug Trafficking Challenges
---------------------------

6. (SBU) Arica struggles to control drug trafficking that
occurs along its borders with Peru and Bolivia. According to
Assistant District Attorney Francisco Ganga, drug traffickers
use false compartments in suitcases and cars and body cavity
smuggling to sneak drugs--almost entirely cocaine--into Chile
via the Tacna-Arica border crossing. "Mules" also cross the
land borders on foot at night, and some smuggle drugs by
boat. Intendente Luis Rocafull told Poloff most mules are
Peruvians--particularly Aymara women--who are paid about USD
40 to take a two hour walk across the border. Those caught
in Chile face a minimum of seven years in jail. Arica is
working on arranging a prisoner transfer agreement with
Tacna, Rocafull said, as more than half of the women in
Arica's prisons are Peruvian mules.

7. (SBU) At a working level, both District Attorney Jorge
Valladares and ADA Ganga said they had good cooperation with
their Peruvian counterparts, but little success in
establishing relationships or promoting cooperation with
Bolivian authorities. Valladares stated much of the problem
is simply that the Bolivians tend not to stay in their
positions for very long, making it difficult to create good
working relationships. For his part, Intendente Rocafull
expressed doubts about the efficacy of Peruvian law
enforcement, noting the Arican police seize 10 times more
drugs than their Tacnan peers.

8. (SBU) Comment: Several interlocutors commented that
relations between local government officials and communities
in northern Chile and southern Peru are often quite
distinct--and more consistently friendly--than the sometimes
tense relationship between Lima and Santiago. While there
are substantial trade and links between indigenous
communities in northern Chile and western Bolivia, human
resource challenges seem to limit the effective cooperation
between local governments in these areas. Paredes and
Valladares' misperceptions about plans for Arica's defense
shed light on the lack of connection and support from
Santiago that some Aricans feel End Comment.
SIMONS

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

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