Humala Calls Meeting with Political Leaders Ahead of Ruling on Border Dispute

Palace meeting for The HaguePolitical leaders in Peru met on Monday at the presidential palace with President Ollanta Humala for an update on an upcoming international court ruling on a maritime border dispute with Chile.

The meeting, which was called by Humala, included former Presidents Alejandro Toledo and Alan Garcia, as well as former presidential candidates Luis Castañeda and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, among others. Flanking President Humala at the meeting were Foreign Affairs Minister Eda Rivas, the President of Congress, Victor Isla, and the head of Peru’s legal team at The Hague, Allan Wagner.

Palace meeting-the center rightThere were some notable absences, however.  Keiko Fujimori, head of Fuerza Popular and who is pressing Humala to pardon her father, was reportedly abroad and so the party was represented by Congressmen Rolando Reategui and Alejandro Aguinaga, former Health minister and President Alberto Fujimori’s physician. 

Lourdes Flores was also absent, although the founder of the Partido Popular Cristiano, Luis Bedoya, and current party president Raul Castro were at the meeting. And Garcia only decided to attend the meeting just hours earlier, since he is convinced that the power moving the Congressional investigations into his administration, including the presidential pardons to over 400 convicted drug traffickers,  comes from the presidential palace as a move to block his candidacy in 2016.

There were also no representatives from the left-wing parties, and Lima Mayor Susana Villaran, head of the left-wing coalition Fuerza Social was not invited.

Nevertheless, the meeting was a rare break in the constant political fighting and mudslinging between political leaders in Lima, all jockeying for position for the presidential race still three years from now.  And the intention was that, to call for unity as the country waits for the ruling handed down by the International Court of Jusice at The Hague, which is expected any time between end June and mid-July.

“What is most important to highlight is the support and unity of all the political forces in this issue that is so crucial for us,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Rivas.

Former President Garcia said the meeting was “important and constructive,” though he refrained from remaining after the meeting to stand in the group photograph.

Chile Peru mapThe dispute dates back to the 1879 – 1883 War of the Pacific, in which Peru and Bolivia lost substantial territory to Chile. Central to the current row is 38,000 square kilometers, or about 14,500 square miles, of fishing-rich sea which Chile currently controls.

Chile says the current border, which runs parallel to the Equator, was established under the two agreements signed in the 1950s, which Peru claims were fishing treaties and that the maritime zone has never been settled.

Peru’s proposed border follows the countries’ south-western sloping border into the ocean, with the disputed area marked in dark blue in the map below.

Peru filed its complaint at the ICJ in January 2008, during President Alan Garcia’s administration, led by then Foreign Affairs minister Allan Wagner, who President Humala chose to ratify as the head of the Foreign Affairs team in The Hague.

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