LIMA – Peru and Argentina on Monday relaunched a bilateral relationship that had been chilled by the scandal of Buenos Aires’s 1995 sale of weaponry to Ecuador, then engaged in a border conflict with Lima.
“It’s a visit of institutional apology and historic reparation,” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said at the Government Palace in Lima, adding that she hoped to “overcome awkward matters and old episodes that aren’t even worth mentioning but that deeply wounded the Peruvians.”
The words of the first Argentine leader to visit Peru for 16 years are significant for Peru, given that Buenos Aires was one of the guarantors of the 1942 treaty that was supposed to resolve the border conflict between Peru and Ecuador.
Though the arms transaction was illegal and a number of people have been prosecuted in the Argentine courts, Lima felt betrayed, especially as Peru was one of the few nations that military supported Argentina in its unsuccessful 1982 war with Britain for control of the Falkland Islands.
For that reason and in the context of an increase in Argentine investments in Peru exceeding $3 billion, Peruvian President Alan Garcia on Monday said that a “final and complete (end has been put) to an awkward accident that never should have occurred” after a long period of “chilliness and distance.”
Garcia also insisted on strengthening the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, and on pursuing the search for peace and regional security, as well as coordinated cuts in military spending.
Meanwhile, the Argentine government emphasized the need to “consolidate unity in the region” and defended the anti-weapons crusade of Peru because there are “too many poor people in the region.”
In addition to Argentine investment in Peru, bilateral trade exceeded $1.4 billion in 2008, a figure that fell last year due to the global recession.
During the ceremony at the Government Palace, different ministers and institutional officials of both countries signed a total of 13 bilateral accords.
On Tuesday, the Argentine leader will visit the Peruvian Congress, where she will be decorated by the full body of lawmakers, and she will meet with Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda, a prospective presidential hopeful. EFE