Chile's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday rejected a proposal from the Peruvian government to redefine maritime borders between the two countries. In a public declaration issued by Foreign Minister Alexander Foxley, Chile's government stated that the Chile-Peru maritime border had already been defined by international treaties in the past.
Peruvian Foreign Minister José Antonio García Belaúnde issued a statement on Monday, which said that "a special treaty is necessary to define the maritime borders." García Belaúnde's statement came during a week of tension between Chile and Peru, after Chile's Constitutional Court ruled against a law project concerning the creation of a new Region XV in the north of the country, (ST, Jan. 29). The text of the project, which was signed by President Michelle Bachelet, redefined Chile's land borders with Peru, robbing the country of between 19,000 and 35,000 square meters of land. Allegedly, one of the main reasons the project was brought forward was to strengthen Chile's position if a dispute over the maritime border was ever brought to International Court of Justice in The Hague. Peru has maintained for some years now that its maritime borders with Chile have never been properly defined. However, La Moneda's position has always been that "there are no unresolved issues" concerning the maritime border. "The border between Chile and Peru has been established by international treaties that date back a long time and have been recognized by the international community," read the statement issued by Chile's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. Chile considers the maritime border established by two territorial agreements, the 1952 Declaration of Maritime Zones and the Special Maritime Border Zone Agreement of 1954. Peru, however, regards these treaties as bringing the maritime borderline too close to Peruvian coasts, and tends to refer to an earlier agreement as defining the borders. "Terrestrial limits are defined by the 1929 agreement, but maritime limits are not defined. It is as simple as that," said García Belaúnde. The call from Peru for the maritime limits to be properly defined coincides with pressure on Peruvian president Alan García to take a firmer position towards Chile. Former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala called for the president to "use legal tools and mechanisms to define the maritime border once and for all and put an end to Chile's expansionist dream." Humala's position regarding the maritime border situation is well-known. According to some government sources, the Region XV project was brought forward by Ricardo Lagos in 2005 to strengthen Chile's position in case Humala ever came to power. The Santiago Times