Date: Sun, 12 Mar 1995 09:59:17 CST
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From: NY Transfer News Collective <>
Subject: Ecuador-Peru: The Fujimori Trap
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From ALAI (Latin American Information Agency)
Translated for NY Transfer News by Michael Pearlman

Ecuador-Peru: The Fujimori trap

By Osvaldo Leon, Latin American Information Agency, 12 March 1995

More than a month after the start of the military confrontation unleashed by Peru and Ecuador in the northern part of their 78 km-long undemarcated border strip, weapons continue to thunder despite the fact that both countries subscribed, in the early morning of February 17, to the Itamaraty Peace Agreement, which established the immediate and simultaneous separation of all forces in the area and their regrouping at two sites: Coangos for the Ecuadorians and Watchpost No. 1 for the Peruvians. The uncomfortable position in which this left Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and the parsimony of the countries who are the guarantors of the Rio Protocol are the factors that have led to the ineffectiveness of the cease-fire.

Both in Ecuador and Peru, the announcement of the end of hostilities was enthusiastically celebrated, with each claiming victory in the theater of operations based on their supposed possession of the Tiwintza Base. Four days before the signing of the accord, the Peruvian president had decreed a unilateral cease-fire (which Ecuador had already done), announcing total victory and the taking of Tiwintza. But Quito's denial was not long in coming, and at the next opportunity it organized a visit by a group of foreign journalists who confirmed that the base was still under Ecuadorian control. General Mora, Lima's army spokesman, was charged with replying, and stated that what the Ecuadorians were showing had to be a fake Tiwintza in their own territory.

The Itamaraty Agreement was signed in the midst of such contradictions. Different political and military analysts coincide in saying that Fujimori gave the go-ahead, foreseeing that the guarantor countries might impose a cease-fire unfavorable to Lima, and in view of the fact that Ecuadorian resistance was wrecking damage on his troops. In the days after the signing of the peace accord, Peru, far from falling back to the area established in the accord, proceeded to regroup its forces, and on the 23rd relaunched its attack with a greater intensity than during the previous hostilities, with the aim of taking Tiwintza and, at the same time, keeping the international observer mission, which is still located in Coangos, from arriving at the base.


It is evident that the taking of Tiwintza, for the Peruvian president, has been a question of honor and his only recourse for saving face, especially in view of the coming presidential elections. Nothing else can explain his decision to go to the conflict zone, promising to raise the flag at the disputed base, a mission that failed five times. But these publicity moves, far from having the desired impact, appear to have backfired.

The Peruvian press, which initially closed ranks around Fujimori, has turned to increasingly critical and virulent questioning. Fujimori lied to Peru when he affirmed that the invaders had been dislodged. There's no longer any doubt that on Monday the 13th, when Fujimori presented his message to the nation, this had not occurred, and so it remains, wrote columnist Fernando Rospigliosi in the magazine CARETAS. He added, In sum, the complications that have arisen in recent weeks are the product of mistakes provoked by the presidential ambitions of Fujimori, who is increasingly trapped by his own lies.

The journalist Cesar Hildebrandt, in the Sunday, February 26 edition of the daily La Republica of Lima, maintains, We signed the Itamaraty document because we couldn't win the war. Since we signed the Itamaraty document, which states that invaded Peruvian soil is a 'conflict zone' without established national sovereignty, we cannot escape the logic of war. We are trapped. The trap is called Fujimori.

The way things are going, it seems that the Peruvian president is only disposed to respect the cease-fire agreed to in Brasilia if his troops reach Tiwintza. Moreover, on Monday the 27th, he sent signals that he was considering the possibility of formally breaking the Itamaraty Agreement, proposing that Ecuador abandon the Coangos base that the agreement establishes as that country's troops' regroupment point.


Despite the reflaring of the military confrontation, the guarantor countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the US) and the international community in general have shown themselves to be indifferent, allowing the war's human and economic losses to continue. The OAS has been virtually limited to being a forum for the two sides to express their viewpoints, while the guarantor countries have restricted themselves to calls for good faith, an attitude that ultimately reflects the indifference of the US government to the conflict, when not a form of supporting Fujimori.

The possibility that this waste will give way to more effective diplomatic action might be found during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the guarantor countries with representatives of Ecuador and Peru that will take place in Montevideo after February 28. This meeting, which was pushed by Chilean president Eduardo Frei, proposes to find a definitive solution to the dispute between Ecuadorians and Peruvians in the unmarked border zone in the Cordillera del Condor. The presidents of both countries will also be in this city to attend the inauguration of Julio Maria Sanguinetti, and while improbable, a meeting of the two cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, over recent weeks, the border post at Huaquillas has been the site of various acts of fraternization led by civilian sectors from both countries demanding the end to this absurd war.