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Peru: A Minister's Departure & War with Chile?

Categories: Latin America, Chile, Peru, Governance, Media & Journalism, Politics, War & Conflict

government [1]

Palacio de Gobierno, Lima, Peru

The political event of the week was, without a doubt, the case of Interior Minister, Pilar Mazzetti, who was forced to resign exaggerating the value of patrol cars for the police. The press played an important role in this, not only by dedicating their front pages to the story, but also by pressuring the administration into make the minsterial change. It finally led to the minister's resignation, although it is still left to doubt whether the resignation was obligated or not.

Bloggers’ opinions on the matter are varied. For example, Milanta writes that “Mazzetti has balls” [ES] [2] for how she confronted the Problem. In blog Andando sin Caminos, who was in favor of the minister's resignation from the beginning, posted three times on the topic: first when the minister declared that she did not want to step down in “The minister who didn't want to leave [3]“; then when then minister brought up her resignation in “The minister who didn't know whether to leave or not [4]“; and finally “The minister left at last [5]“. The Political Wizard has summary of almost everything that happened at the public level in “Holy oils for Minister Mazzetti [6],” and in Blog del Paki, although they agree with the resignation, they don't hold the same opinion conerning the treatment given by the press has given him: “Enough paranoia, no? [7]

For his part, Pepitas.com tells us some relevant jokes: “How Embarrassing … Mazzetti's resignation confirmed while she was on a flight [8].” Finally, in Pueblo Vruto they add “The Useful Idiot of the Week: Pilar Mazzetti,” which speculates on some possible Machiavellian politicians behind it all.

Leaving the subject, and moving to another related one, we have From the third floor, who wonders if there won't be other ministers who we will see stepping down in “Wagner: the Next Victim? [9]” In this case it's said that there would be groups within the military pressuring – mainly through the Fujimori [10]-aligned newspaper La Razón – to cause the departure of the Defense Minister. The reasons? On the one hand, because of the new reforms that the minister wants to implement and on the other hand, although it doesn't seem like much, a new post to deal with the eternal skirmishes at different levels that periodically occur with our southern neighbor Chile.

On this thorny subject, it is worth reading the complete post written by Gran Combo Club just a bit ago: The Peru-Chile War [11]. This doesn't have to do with a war around the corner. Even though the possibility is always present in Peruvian-Chilean relations and is a permanent topic of conversation this side of the border, it's not probable that it would materialize. Nevertheless there are those who know how to take advantage of the subject and already have it all thought out. Silvio, of Gran Combo Club was investigating some military forums and she has summarized the different positions, some of which sound terrifying.

La guerra tiene que iniciarse como toda guerra que se estime. Por el lado aereo. Los chilenos tratarían de dar un golpe de mano a la base aerea de La Joya. Su avión Condor estaría determinando los movimientos de la FAP para ver si hay reacción y por donde. La artillería antiaerea haría presa facil de los Mirage que tendrían que acercarse mucho. Los Mig-29 derribarían a los Mirage. Los misiles israelitas son buenos pero son iguales a los R-73 e inferiores a los R-77. El Perú a su vez trataría de destruir la base aerea de Cerro Moreno en Iquique asi como los hangares subterraneos secretos y los tramos de carretera anchados que les servirían de pista de aterrizaje clandestinas. Arica seria tomada fácilmente. Los 6 submarinos bloquearían cualquier avance de la marina chilena. Los blindados chilenos serían atacados por los helicopteros asi como por los bombarderos peruanos, volando a cotas medias.

The war must begin like all wars that are considered. In the air the Chileans would try to hit the La Joya Airforce base. Its Condor airplane would be determining the movements of Peru's airforce to see if there is any reaction and where. The antiaircraft artillery would make easy prey of the Mirage airplanes [12] that they would have to get close. The MIG-29s would demolish the Mirages. The Israeli missiles are good but they are equal to the R-73 and inferior to the R-77. Peru would also try to destroy the Cerro Moreno air base in Iquique [13] as well as the secret underground hangars and the widened sections of highway that would serve as clandestine runway. Arica [14] would be taken easily. The 6 submarines would block any advance of the Chilean navy. The Chilean soldiers would be attacked by helicopters as well as by the Peruvian bombers, flying at average altitudes.

But not all the gathered opinions are military in nature. Some of them are also geopolitical, such as this from a Peruvian and its consequent response by a Chilean:

Lo preocupante es que el vecino del sur muestra un núcleo vital tan activo que no encuentra ya suficiente su espacio vital, de por sí reducido, y se lanza resueltamente a la conquista económico-comercial (por ahora) de nuevos espacios en sus países vecinos. De este paso a la conquista territorial hay algún trecho, sin duda, pero es un paso previo, y mientras nuestro núcleo vital se muestre débil e incapaz de de desarrollar el Hinterland y hacer sentir su poder en las fronteras, la tentación para un vecino con un núcleo vital activo y resuelto será muy grande.

What's worrisome is that our southern neighbor has an economy so active that it does not find its national space sufficient enough and so resolutely sets out to the economic-commercial conquest (so far) of new spaces in neighboring countries. This stage of economic conquest has, without a doubt, been going on for a long time. But it's just a start, and while our economy is weak and incapable of developing our “Hinterland [15]” and making its power felt at the borders, the temptation [of conquest] for a neighbor with an active economy will be very great.

And the Chilean's response:

Dominacion de mundo? Chile en hambruna buscando ampliar su hinterland? el mar como via alternativa en Chile?: Viejo, por dios, no se nos estará pasando la mano?. En Chile aun hay lugares deshabitados, fronteras interiores, zonas de baja conectividad, pueblos sin electricidad. Opinar de geopolitica (que involucre a Chile) sin saber esto es puro bla bla. Creo que no amerita mayores comentarios.

World domination? Chile in famine looking for to extend its hinterland? The sea as an alternative route in Chile? Buddy, for god's sake, why aren't you extending your hand? In Chile there are still uninhabited places, interior frontiers, zones of low connectivity, towns without electricity. To think of geopolitics (that involve Chile) without knowing this is pure bla bla. I don't think it deserves any further comment.

At the end of his post Silvio places some photographs of airplanes and military boats. In the comment section, somebody indicates that one of the photos is from a recent joint military exercise between Peru and the USA and so in the post Military exercise PERU-USA: Photos and Videos of “OPERATION HALCON-CONDOR 2007 [16]”, Peruanista reports about the said activity, of which, although she describes as positive, thinks that the same collaboration in other scopes should also occur, such health, literacy and others. And with this, I bid farewell until the next one.

Translation from Spanish [17] by David Sasaki