Peru requests extension on deadline to remove land mines

Peru is filing a request to the international Mine Ban Treaty, or Ottawa Convention, to extend to 2012 its deadline to remove anti-personal land mines within Peruvian territory. The current deadline is 2009.

Gonzalo Gutiérrez, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, told Andina news agency that a lack of infrastructure and a limited budget have slowed down the work of removing the mines. Most of the anti-personal land mines yet to be removed are located on the border with Ecuador, placed during the brief 1995 war, and 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.

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.

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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