Peru’s new army chief says no to politics, considers latest Peru-Chile dispute closed

Peru’s new army chief, General Otto Guibovich Arteaga, promised Friday that Peru’s army would “never again” get involved in politics, in an attempt to turn the page on the latest ongoing diplomatic spat.

“There is a constitutional reason for the power that weapons have and they should never again get mixed up in political matters,” said Guibovich, in reference to his predecessor, now retired army chief Edwin Donayre — whose jingoistic, anti-Chilean comments at a military cocktail party, caught on video and posted to YouTube, sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.

“The sword as a symbol of command and honor shines when it is dedicated to its own purpose and loses that shine when we steer away from what is ours,” added Guibovich. “Never again is it necessary to renew our commitment to that purpose.”

Guibovich said he thanked the President for trusting him and promised “not to disappoint,” during a military ceremony attended by President Alan García, Defense minister Ántero Flores-Aráoz and and Cabinet chief Yehude Simon.

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.”

Then, over the weekend, Donayre added fuel to the fire by repeatedly saying that he would not be forced into early retirement due to external pressure. He then reneged on his apology for making the jingoistic comments.

On Wednesday, Chile reiterated its demand that Donayre be fired immediately, but Peru refused to move up his retirement.

“I’m leaving without fear, and without shame,” said Donayre, during his farewell speech on Friday. “I feel no hate, and no resentment.”

“Thank you, my beloved people, thank-you for your affection, thank you God, and my fellow soldiers,” Donayre added, with an emotion quiver in his voice.

“You must never bow your head in shame for telling the truth,” Donayre concluded. “Thank you to the media, which has been my adversary. Sooner or later the truth will come out… you must fight the enemy with strength and courage.”

According to President García, Donayre’s retirement and Guibovich’s appointment definitely brings the Peru-Chile spat to an end.

“It’s been solved,” said García in comments to RPP, “and it seems to be that nothing more needs to be said about the issue.”

“My Chilean friends know that in Peru the majority of Peruvians have a modern and fraternal vision and concept (of Chile),” García of Peru’s southern neighbor and traditional rival, both politically and militarily.

Guibovich is a 35-year army veteran who earned a masters degree in adminstration from Troy State University in Alabama, and another from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands.

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