Date: Sun, 12 Mar 1995 09:59:17 CST
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From: NY Transfer News Collective <email@example.com>
Subject: Ecuador-Peru: The Fujimori Trap
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From ALAI (Latin American Information Agency)
Translated for NY Transfer News by Michael Pearlman firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
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
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
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.