Peru President Garcia rejects Chilean espionage

Following a two-hour emergency meeting with the national security council early Monday, President Alan Garcia called a press conference in the Government Palace to “categorically and strongly reject” espionage by Chile as “an offense to our sovereignty.”

García arrived from Singapore only brief hours before the meeting, having cut short his participation in the 20th annual APEC summit when he received the news Friday of a Peruvian Air Force officer had been caught selling military information to Chile.  He also cancelled a meeting scheduled in Singapore with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Víctor Ariza, a noncommissioned officer, was discovered to have been selling military information to Chile for the past six years, after being recruited when he served as a technician in the Peruvian Embassy in Santiago. He traveled frequently to Santiago and Buenos Aires, to hand over information. According to President Garcia, the trail of e-mails and money transfers is solid proof, which he wants an international institution to verify.

According to news reports, Ariza sold the Peruvian air force’s strategic plan to 2021 and communications codes used by the embassy in Santiago. 

 The news leak would appear to be very ill-timed, with the President and several of his ministers on the other side of the world at the time.  Also, Peru is currently carrying out its continent-wide campaign to reduce weapons purchases, a campaign so far approved by Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina, but last week Washington confirmed that Chile has placed an order for $665 million worth in U.S. missiles.  In October, meanwhile, Chile held war games with the taunting title of Nitrates Operation in the Atacama desert close to the border with Peru.

Additionally, Chile awaits to appeal any decision it deems unfavorable from the International Court at The Hague, which is seeing Peru’s claim on the ocean border with Chile.

 “Now,” comments Fritz Dubois, editor of Peru.21, on the spy case, “what we will see is enormous pressure to increase the budget to buy war equipment, while urgent problems such as the VRAE or the brutal insecurity in which citizens live, will be relegated to secondary importance.”

But President Garcia wants to reject that route.

“We will use the civilized and peaceful path chosen by democratic nations,” Garcia said. “This cannot be solved by buying more weapons. The Court at The Hague and its decision cannot be answered by war games, cannot be answered by the steeled teeth of weapons because that is not a democratic custom.” 

 “Peru is and always will be a pacifist country, fraternal and in favor of continental integration,” Garcia said, adding that “With these measures, attitudes and behavior, it is very difficult to integrate our peoples over suspicion and mistrust.”

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