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Viewing cable 08LIMA72, PERU TAKES CHILE BORDER DISPUTE TO THE HAGUE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08LIMA72 2008-01-15 22:10 2011-02-19 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lima
Appears in these articles:
http://elcomercio.pe/
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
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


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

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============================