“The visit of President Cristina Kirchner and the re-launching of ties with Peru is strategic for Argentina: Peru is a very important country in South America and a historic ally of Argentina”, said Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana following the signature of thirteen bilateral accords at Government House in Lima.
Regular political meetings at ministerial level were agreed as well as a closer integration in the private sector through the bi-national business council.
“Rebuilding traditional relations with Peru will help the President (Mrs. Kirchner) to balance her current closeness with Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador”, said Argentine diplomatic sources further expanding on the motives for the visit.
“We hope to take the ‘too-much-Chavez’ presence in Argentina’s foreign policy”, added the sources recalling that Argentina and Peru have very close links dating back to colonial times, besides the fact “traditionally we’ve had a common adversary, Chile”.
Peru has pending border disputes with Chile going back to 1870 and so did Argentina until the peace and friendship treaty of 1984.
In the Falklands conflict of 1982, it has now surfaced that Chile’ Pinochet extended strategic support and information to the British while Peru was the only South American country to ship Exocet missiles and other military hardware to Argentina.
Although relations between Chile and Argentina under Michelle Bachelet and Cristina Fernandez have never been better, in spite of several trade and energy disputes, Buenos Aires and Lima share a common concern and that is the ‘strong and modern rearmament’ of Chile, allegedly financed with windfall earnings from copper.
According to Argentine sources Peruvian president Alan Garcia agreed with Mrs. Kirchner that in the next Union of South American Nations summit, Unasur, the two countries will jointly present a motion “to put a limit on the arms race in the region”.
“I celebrate that we can work in Unasur to achieve peace and security, cutting expenditure on arms, which only generates poverty and greater inequality”, said President García.
Mrs. Kirchner in her speech supported García’s words saying that resources used in the arms race should be invested in “combating poverty and inequality”.
“We need to consolidate unity in the region” and cut military spending because there are “too many poor people in the region” said Mrs Kirchner.
President García is in his second mandate and on taking office said that the goal of his administration was to reach and overtake Chile as a regional economic power. To great extent he has done this by opening the Peruvian economy and promoting foreign investment even in strategic areas such as energy, minerals and communications.
However this Garcia is the complete opposite of the first president Garcia, 1985/1990, a fire brand left winger, blend of Marxism with Catholic liberation theory that bankrupted Peru, helped promote one of the deadliest guerrilla movements in the region, Shinning Path, finally defeated by the authoritarian Alberto Fujimori in alliance with the Peruvian army.