Tuesday, November 17

Spy Games

In hindsight, maybe last weekend wasn't the best time to pop on over the border. Peru claims to have discovered a spy--a member of the FAP (Peruvian Air Force) who sold secrets to Chile. 

As if things weren't already tense enough between the two countries. 

Beyond Chile mass-producing and then claiming as it's own an originally Peruvian liquor, pisco, the two countries did fight a devastating war over the Atacama desert from 1879-1884. 

Peru and ally Bolivia lost, while Chile annexed the region rich in guano, a fertilizer in demand in Europe at the time. Before the war, this was the border layout:
So on top of old and deep wounds, recent events don't bode any better for improved relations.

Peru just brought a maritime dispute with Chile before the Hague, claiming that the maritime borders are not clearly drawn. Chile thinks that in earlier treaties, the line was drawn due west out into the Pacific. But Peru says that the ocean border should go southwest, following the land border (check out the map to see what I mean).

And along with the rest of Latin America, Chile is militarizing, and just announced it was interested in $665 million worth in U.S. arms.

So take all that, add the pisco thing, throw in a spy and you have the recipe to start an all-out diplomatic and rhetorical slap match.

Both at APEC summit, Garcia cancelled a meeting with Bachelet and shipped out a day early after learning about the incident. Supposedly, Garcia also pulled his ambassador to Chile back to Lima for talks. Calling Chile a "tiny republic", he has directly implicated executive branch involvement.

Bachelet slapped back, calling Garcia's "grandstanding" accusations "offensive." The Chilean government has denied any involvement in espionage. 

Glad we made it away from the border without too many problems.

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