Why don’t you shut up? Peru President Alan Garcia tells Bolivia to stop meddling

A day after recalling his ambassador from Bolivia, President Alan Garcia on Monday sharply told his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, to butt out of Peru’s domestic affairs in reply to the Bolivian leader’s call for Peruvians to protest the alleged establishment of United States military bases on Peruvian soil.

“Run your country, and don’t meddle with mine,” said Garcia to reporters. “You’re pushing too far, so beware of the consequences that may result because of what you are doing. No country has the right to meddle in the internal affairs of another.”

Garcia was reacting to Morales’ statement on Saturday that Peru was permitting Washington to “humiliate” South America “under the pretext of fighting against terrorism and drug trafficking.”

“It should be said like Juan Carlos of Spain: ‘Why don’t you shut up?’” Garcia said, referring to the Spanish king’s jibe at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last November during the 17th Ibero-American Summit in Chile after Chavez repeatedly called Spanish Prime-Minister José María Aznar a “fascist.”

Morales also reportedly called on Peruvians to resist and expel the U.S. bases from their land, which Garcia took as a rallying call for a July 9 nationwide strike planned by the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, or CGTP.

“That Morales wants to encourage the July 9 strike is simply repulsive to me,” Garcia said. “This issue must be condemned internationally because Peru is a big, important and sovereign nation and we cannot allow Morales, even if he is the president of Bolivia, to take these liberties and stir up Peru.”

Garcia called Morales’ contention that U.S. military bases are being set up in Peru a “coarse lie.”

“Why doesn’t Mister Morales come to Peru and tell me where that base is? The best thing he can do is stop meddling with Peruvian politics, stop trying to divide Peruvians or seeking to bring them at odds. He seems to have done enough in Bolivia without coming to interfere here,” Garcia said.

Morales responded to Garcia’s comments later Tuesday afternoon.

“A president that tells someone to shut up is not a president, or he’s an antidemocratic president that doesn’t accept dialog and who doesn’t listen to his people,” said Morales during the XXXV summit of Mercosur leaders in Argentina.

Last May, 77 U.S. soldiers were deployed to Peru’s southern provincial capital Ayacucho as part of the “New Horizons Peru 2008 Program.”

The initiative, according to the U.S. military, is designed “to assist underprivileged Peruvian communities with expert medical care and robust construction projects while strengthening the bonds of friendship through teamwork and mutual respect.”

But many critics, like Morales and the leader of the opposition Peruvian Nationalist Party, Ollanta Humala, say that Peruvian engineers could easily carry out the same type of work and fear that the U.S. military presence may be a precursor to a permanent U.S. military base in Peruvian territory.

The Bolivian president, a close ally to Chavez, has been at odds with Garcia since a free trade deal with Washington was signed into law by President George W. Bush last year. Diplomatic tensions have been rising steadily over the last two months.

In May, Peru delivered a letter of protest to Bolivia over Morales’ allegation that Peru’s demand for the extradition of his former adviser Walter Chávez — wanted on terrorism charges in Peru — was a CIA conspiracy to discredit his leftist administration.

Morales also accused Peru of wanting to dismantle the Andean Community of Nations trade bloc in order to sign bilateral trade agreements with other countries, and has complained that Peru and Colombia, both strong U.S. allies, are moving ahead too quickly with FTA negotiations with Europe and threatened to use his influence within the Andean Community to derail the talks.

Last week, Morales stonewalled Peru’s proposed amendment to strengthen the Andean Community’s intellectual property regime — a requirement that must be met before Peru can set off its free trade deal with the U.S.

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