Humala builds relations with Chile

Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala returned to Lima Wednesday evening, following a meeting with President Sebastian Piñera of Chile earlier in the day.

“I feel this trip has been worth the effort,” state news agency Andina reported Humala as saying. “We have established an open channel to which to have direct communication for solving any impasse, any problem that can be resolved by both leaders.”  Prior to this presidential campaign, Humala, a former military officer, was outspokenly anti-Chilean.

“I’m going to leave happy… because I know that the Chilean government is predisposed to developing a series of topics,” he added.

Piñera said that Peru and Chile hold a “future full of opportunities” following their meeting.

Humala and Piñera discussed economic issues, including how to promote investments in between the countries, as well as transportation and military expenditures.

They also discussed energy. Humala said once Peru addresses the issue of its internal supply, it would be willing to export energy to any country without discrimination. Other topics included cooperation on security and the illegal drug trade, as well as immigration.

Peru and Chile have a history of tense relations dating back to a 19th Century war.

In 2009, President Alan Garcia blasted Peru’s southern neighbour for alleged military spying. A Peruvian Air Force NCO, Victor Ariza, later confessed to selling military secrets to Chile over several years.

In addition, Peru has had a long time dispute with Chile over their maritime border. That dispute is currently at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The dispute dates back to the 1879 – 1883 War of the Pacific, in which Peru and Bolivia lost substantial territory to Chile. Central to the 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 also runs parallel to the equator, was established under two agreements from the 1950s. However, Peru claims those agreements were fishing treaties and the maritime zone has never been settled.

Peru’s proposed border follows the countries south-western sloping border into the ocean.

Humala’s visit to Santiago was the last leg of this initial trip that included Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina ahead of his July 28 inauguration.  He will also visit Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia before his inauguration.

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