Peruvian president Ollanta Humala supported Foreign Affairs minister Rafael Roncagliolo following the impasse with the British embassy in Lima that strongly criticized the last minute cancelling of the protocol visit of HMS Montrose to El Callao.
During a television interview President Humala said that “we don’t accept pressures from nobody; we’re nobody’s colony” in reference to two strong communiqués from the British embassy criticizing Minister Roncagliolo management of the incident.
President Humala went further and said that “Peruvian foreign policy is being managed adequately; we haven’t changed the fundamental lines of Peruvian diplomacy, we don’t accept pressures, we’re nobody’s satellite or colony”.
However the Peruvian president said that the decision involving HMS Montrose must not be interpreted as support for Argentina, but rather for what has been the traditional stance of Peruvian diplomacy.
“It is not a specific support to Argentina, it is a support of the political stance of Peruvian policy for over twenty years”, said Humala.
The Peruvian president said that Congress has the right to summon Minister Roncagliolo for having cancelled at last moment the visit of HMS Montrose.
The incident generated a strong protest from the UK embassy in Lima which described the Peruvian government attitude as “an unfriendly gesture”.
“The British Government is disappointed with this cancellation and by the way this issue has been handled” said Ambassador James Darius. “This has been perceived by the people of the United Kingdom as an unfriendly gesture” and the cancellation of the visit is “particularly unfortunate given the solid ties between Peru and the United Kingdom”.
But in spite of government support for Roncagliolo, the opposition is demanding his resignation for his incompetence in managing the whole incident.
“Roncagliolo has committed several mistakes which would not even be committed by a freshman and which have led us to a diplomatic conflict. His summoning of the British ambassador has been late; he has no initiative but to make mistake after mistake. It’s time he steps down”, said Cecilia Chacón from the opposition Peru 21.
The incident has revealed divisions in President Humala’s cabinet or at least lack of coordination. HMS Montrose visit was approved by the Peruvian congress on initiative from the Executive, and it was only following Argentine criticisms that Minister Roncagliolo back stepped at last moment.
Cabinet Chief Oscar Valdes, and probably the man closest to the Peruvian president, described the issue as “highly delicate” and likewise admitted serious misunderstandings and contradictions in the cancellation of the frigate’s visit.
Valdes also revealed he phoned Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne to apologize for the whole incident, which occurred just a few hours after he had left Lima where he was on a visit of Pacific countries.
“It is a concern that relations with a friendly country like the United Kingdom could have this glitch” said Valdes as saying. “We regret this unfortunate incident and we hope it can be overcome”.
Likewise Peruvian Defence Minister Luis Alberto Otálora said the turning back of HMS Montrose was not a cancellation but rather a suspension, and the visit could take place in the future.