The president of the Chilean Lower House Foreign Affairs committee, Jorge Tarud said on Sunday that Chile is fully complying with the Ottawa Convention and with the timetable to finish de-mining tasks along the Peruvian border.
Lawmaker Tarud’s statement was in reply to an official release from the Peruvian Foreign Affairs ministry requesting a more expedient mine clearance process along the border following an incident in which a cabdriver crossing illegally, was blown up by an anti-tank mine.
“Chile is involved in all the pertinent tasks and is doing its utmost to comply with the Ottawa convention; however we all know this is a costly and delicate process, since it’s not that easy to reach the field and begin de-mining because human lives are involved”
Given the willingness of Peru to cooperate in the strengthening of “possible illicit” actions along the border, Tarud said that Peruvian authorities should impose the sufficient controls so that Peruvians don’t trespass the Chilean border illegally.
“They are responsible for safeguarding the border so that these incidents do not occur as unfortunately has happened with the Peruvian taxi driver who with his cab run over an anti-tank mine”, insisted the Chilean lawmaker.
Tarud recalled that in the past Chile was forced, for defensive reasons to mine the border in consideration to then (Peruvian) presidents Velasco Alvarado and Morales Bermúdez “who had the intention of invading the north of Chile and these are the historic consequences we are living currently”.
(Generals Juan Velasco Alvarado following a coup ruled from 1968/1975. He was followed by General Francisco Morales Bermudez who ousted Velasco in 1975 and re-established an elected civilian government in 1980).
Therefore “the only thing that Chile has done was to safeguard its sovereignty and for this the mining of border areas was implemented as an option, totally defensive, before the challenging Peruvian aspirations”.
In the release, the Peruvian Foreign ministry underlines the importance in such circumstances, of the recent humanitarian demining in the framework of international agreements.
“Peru reiterates the urgency of bringing to an end as soon as possible the bilateral cooperation in the joint demining effort undertaken with the government of Chile”.
The release adds Peru’s willingness to strengthen cooperation with Chile to prevent and confront in a coordinated way possible illicit actions along the border zone.
The incident occurred last Friday 25, “when close to the international political limit in the Arica Parinacota Region, an anti-tank mine went off triggered by a civilian vehicle and causing a fatal victim”, was the official report from the Chilean army.
Last April Chile and Peru agreed to contract a private company to do all the mine clearance in the border area, planted with anti-personnel and anti tank mines.
Since 2002 Chile has been involved in extensive demining tasks and has eliminated 14.000 of the lethal explosives according to the latest official numbers. Chile planted mines not only along its border with Peru, but also in certain areas with Bolivia and with Argentina, particularly in the southern most region.