Peru and Bolivia sign defense cooperation agreement

Peru and Bolivia signed a defense cooperation agreement to “continue moving forward in an open and determined manner” Friday, one month after a diplomatic crisis led Peru to recall its ambassador in La Paz after Bolivian President Evo Morales alleged that Peru was opening its doors to establish a permanent United States military base.

The agreement was signed by Defense Minister Ántero Flores-Aráoz and his Bolivian counterpart, Walker San Miguel.

“All that is part of the past,” said Flores concerning the several diplomatic spats that have occurred in recent months between Peru and Bolivia. “You always have to project yourself and the relationship is excellent.”

“We have the intention of collaborating in the war on drugs to identify the dangers and threats that always exist,” and that harm our economies, he added in comments to Radio Programas radio.

Asked if Peru could resolve Bolivia’s aspiration to its own sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, Flores said that Peru would never become an obstacle to the “just” and “logical” aspirations of its neighbor.

Bolivia lost its ocean access and 400 kilometers of coastline to Chile as a result of the War of the Pacific, which lasted from 1879-83.

Peru recalled its ambassador in La Paz in June, shortly after Morales contended that the United States “would take its bases to Peru,” after requests from Washington to establish military bases were rejected by Bolivia and Ecuador, and he called on Peruvians to “resist and expel” the Americans from their country.

A U.S. army contingent had recently arrived in Peru, but both the United States and Peru’s government maintain they were here to carry out strictly humanitarian projects in the central highland region of Ayacucho.

The diplomatic recall came on the heels of several other diplomatic spats between Peru and Bolivia resulting from, among other things, Morales’ allegation that Peru’s demand for the extradition of his former adviser Walter Chávez — wanted on terrorism charges in Peru — was a CIA conspiracy to discredit his leftist administration.

The Bolivian president also called Peru President Alan Garcia “very fat and not very anti-imperialistic,” and accused Peru of wanting to dismantle the Andean Community of Nations trade bloc in order to sign bilateral trade agreements with other countries. According to the Bolivian President, Peru violated the bloc’s internal rules by failing to get approval from its Andean neighbors before going it alone and signing a bilateral deal with the U.S. that was ratified Dec. 14 by President George W. Bush.

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