U.S. provides support for demining Peru’s northern border region

Support from the United States government will allow Peru to remove land mines from its northern border with Ecuador over the next seven years, Foreign Affairs Minister José Antonio García Belaunde as saying told state news agency Andina.

García Belaunde made the comments after signing a memorandum of understanding on Friday with the U.S. ambassador to Peru, Michael McKinley. The agreement will provide Peru with $2.83 million in order to remove land mines.

“The contribution of new techniques and financing from the United States opens a new phase for the demining process and the treatment of victims from mines,” García Belaunde said. “The objective is for Peru to be free of mine by March 2017.”

McKinley said the U.S. anticipates providing a total of $5 million this year for the project. He added that $500,000 would be provided for compensation for victims of land mines.

Most of Peru’s anti-personal land mines yet to be removed are located on the border with Ecuador, placed during the brief 1995 Cenepa war between the two South American countries over 48-miles of unmarked territory in the Andean foothills.

In 2007, an estimated 50,000 land mines still remained along the Cordillera del Condor on the Peru-Ecuador border. These mines are being removed in a joint effort by Peru and Ecuador with the OAS Program for Integral Action against Antipersonnel Mines. More than 100 Peruvian Army deminers were being assigned to the task.

Peru’s government also placed land mines around high tension pylons that carry transmission lines in the main power grid from the Mantaro hydroelectric plant in the central highlands to Lima.

Between 1980 and 1992, Sendero Luminoso insurgents frequently used dynamite to destroy the pylons that fed electricity to Lima and other key cities. Land mines were placed around more than 2,400 pylons, as well as around some electricity substations and three penitentiary centers — Yanamayo prison in Puno, Huacariz in Cajamarca and the Miguel Castro Castro jail in Lima.

Although there are no land mines in Peru on its border with Chile, there are mines on the Chilean side, planted in the 1970s during General Augusto Pinochet’s regime. Recently, Chile has also requested an extension on its deadline to remove land mines not only along its border with Peru but also with Bolivia and Argentina.

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