Peru-Chile body bag remark controversy continues: Chile demands immediate destitution of Peruvian army chief scheduled to retire in two days

Peru and Chile remained locked in a we’re-right-you’re-wrong diplomatic spat Wednesday, after Chile reiterated its demand for the immediate destitution of Peru’s army chief, Gen. Edwin Donayre, and Peru’s refusal to move up his retirement, which is officially scheduled to occur in two days.

Tensions rose between both countries this weekend after Donayre, who is set to step aside as army chief on Friday, repeatedly said that he would not be forced into early retirement due to external pressure. He also reneged on his apology for making jingoistic, anti-Chilean comments at a military cocktail party that were caught on video and posted to YouTube.

Donayre’s comments “only serve to further convince us that we are right, and that our government’s stance is reasonable,” Government spokesman, Francisco Vidal, said  in a statement posted on the Chilean government’s website. Donayre “doesn’t even regret” what he said, Vidal complained.

“What we’re waiting for is action, not words,” said Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Alejandro Foxley. “We’re not going to comment anything else, and we’re not going to help make more serious a situation we already consider to be serious.”

Last week, an amateur-quality video emerged of Donayre at a small, private gathering, saying that if Chile were to invade Peru, Chileans would be removed from Peru “in a box, or if there aren’t sufficient boxes available, then in plastic bags.” In the video, he is seen surrounded by other uniformed officers, their wives, and several people in civilian dress.

Though Donayre apologized for his comments, he later said that they had been taken out of context and had been “the object of perverse, malicious and tendentious manipulation.”

“I regret nothing,” Donayre said during a passionate speech given in Ica over the weekend, adding fuel to the fire.

After Bachelet’s meeting with top advisers Monday, Vidal declined to say whether Chile’s ambassador to Peru would be recalled.

Peruvian officials have reiterated that Donayre would not be cashiered from the military and will retire, as planned, on Dec. 5.

“Never will a country accept that another publicly say whether or not (the army’s chief should be sacked), or that the incident hasn’t been resolved, after saying that it had,” said Peru’s Foreign Affairs Minister José Antonio García Belaunde.

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