The brief war between Ecuador and Peru in 1995 marked the third time in a century that the two South American nations came to blows over the border demarcation along remote outposts along the headwaters of the Cenepa River. In November 1994, Peruvian border controls encountered Ecuadorian outposts in areas claimed by Peru. A tense meeting between military leaders in December led the governments of both sides to send reinforcements to the area. By late January, the two sides were exchanging gunfire and aerial attacks, with most of the fighting taking place around the Tiwinza outpost. In late February, the two sides signed the Montevideo Declaration, agreeing to a ceasefire until the border dispute could be resolved. The negotiations took more than four years to finalize, ultimately going into effect in May 1999. Ultimately Ecuador agreed to rescind its claims to the areas around the Cenepa headwaters, while Peru surrendered one square mile of territory around the Tiwinza outpost. Both sides claimed victory in the war.
Ecuadorian troops at Tiwinza outpost. Their message to the Peruvian Air Force: “Ni un paso atras” or “Not one step back.”
President Duran-Ballen address to the nation (excerpts), 26 January 1995
Peruvian Foreign Ministry communique, 26 January 1995
President Fujimori’s statement on the role of the armed forces, 26 January 1995
President Duran Ballen address to the nation, 28 January 1995
President Duran-Ballen’s radio address following meeting with Ecuadorean leaders, 28 January 1995
President Duran-Ballen’s announcement of further clashes with Peru, 28 January 1995
President Duran Ballen speech in Independence Plaza, 29 January 1995
President Duran-Ballen’s speech to students in Independence Plaza, 31 January 1995
President Duran Ballen outlines the Ecuador-Peru dispute, 1 February 1995
President Fujimori’s televised address, 1 February 1995
Peruvian Foreign Minister’s news conference on border situation, 1 February 1995
Interview with Peruvian Foreign Minister, 6 February 1995
President Duran-Ballen address to the nation (excerpts), 26 January 1995 Top
Source: Lynn F. Monahan. “Peruvian Troops Move Toward Border After Reported Clash With Ecuador,” 27 January 1995, The Associated Press. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic 18 September 2012.
Peruvian troops were dispatched Friday to the wild jungle frontier with Ecuador after each country accused the other of cross-border attacks in the long-disputed area.
Ecuador’s president, charging the attacks were continuing, declared a national state of emergency and mobilization late Friday.
In a nationwide broadcast from Quito, capital of Ecuador, President Sixto Duran-Ballen said Peruvian forces attacked various Ecuadorean border positions and combat has been going on “all through the day.”
Peru and Ecuador fought a war in 1941 over their 1000-mile border, and animosity has been strong ever since. The disputed area is a 50-mile stretch of a remote, jungle-covered mountain chain called the Cordillera del Condor.
Peru charged late Thursday that an Ecuadorean helicopter had bombed one of its outposts.
But in his four-minute speech, Duran-Ballen denied Peru’s claim and charged Peruvian troops with launching an attack early Friday against the Lt. Hugo Ortiz border post. He blamed Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for the fighting.
“The president of Peru has ordered the removal of our forces that occupy Ecuadorean territory, a fact that has resulted in conflicts of major magnitude,” Duran-Ballen said.
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry had no comment on Duran-Ballen’s charges.
The Ecuadorean Joint Chief of Staffs announced late Friday that fighting was continuing and that Peruvian troops had used mortars against Ecuadorean positions.
The military communique said Ecuadorean forces “remained firm in their positions and caused serious casualties to the aggressors.”
The head of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, was to travel Saturday to Quito and Lima to try to calm the tensions. In a statement issued in Washington, the OAS said Gaviria talked to both presidents Friday by phone from Bogota, Colombia.
In Tumbes, a city 620 miles northwest of Lima, Peruvian troops were placed on alert and tanks were moved toward the border. The state-owned television station broadcast footage late Friday of troops in trucks headed toward the border from Tumbes.
Peru’s president met all day with the National Defense Council, and Foreign Minister Efrain Goldenberg received the ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States, which have mediated the border dispute in the past.
Duran-Ballen said he had also spoken to Fujimori in an attempt to “preserve the peaceful coexistence of our people.” He did not elaborate on their conversation.
Duran-Ballen’s decrees Friday night give the government exceptional powers to restrict individual liberties, including the right to assembly and freedom of the press.
Ecuador reportedly began evacuating the sick, elderly and children from the town of Macara, five miles from the border.
Ecuadorean officials said the attack against the Lt. Hugo Ortiz border post was repelled without Ecuadorean losses.
Ecuador also said its troops intercepted a Peruvian patrol on Thursday near the Cenepa River, about 220 miles southeast of Quito. The river begins in the Cordillera del Condor.
The Peruvian Defense Ministry said Friday night that its actions were limited to preventing incursions on Peruvian territory, adding that its troops did not cross the border. It did not mention specific incidents.
Peru contends the Cenepa River, about 560 miles northwest of Lima, is completely within Peruvian territory.
Ecuador contends it lost almost half of its territory with the signing of the 1942 Protocol of Rio de Janeiro after the 1941 war. Ecuador later declared void the territorial limits set by the protocol.
Clashes between the two South American countries broke out in 1981. In January 1994, Ecuador said its troops exchanged gunfire with Peruvian soldiers who crossed the border. Peruvian officials said Ecuador was the aggressor.
Earlier this week, Ecuador claimed that Peruvian artillery helicopters had violated its border, which Peru denied. Peruvian officials said the helicopters were on routine missions within Peru.
Peruvian Foreign Ministry communique, 26 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Peruvian Foreign Ministry communique denounces Ecuador’s ‘sly act of aggression,’” 28 January 1995. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis Academic 18 September 2012.
Text, as broadcast by Peruvian Programas del Peru radio, of Official Communique No 03/95 issued by the Peruvian Foreign Ministry in Lima on 26th January
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry hereby denounces to the international and national public the fact that this afternoon an Ecuadoran army helicopter bombed [Spanish: bombardeado] a Peruvian sentry post approximately 4 km from the borderline established by the Rio de Janeiro Protocol and by the award issued by Dias de Aguiar.
The sly act of aggression took place one day after the recognition of the validity of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol by the Ecuadoran government.
This recognition of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol has been emphatically welcomed by the Peruvian government through Foreign Ministry communique No 02/95, which was released at 1700 [local time] today. This means that the attack was perpetrated approximately two hours after the release of the Foreign Ministry communique.
The belligerent, aggressive Ecuadoran attitude contradicts its alleged pacifist position and disrupts peace, security and the international legal order at a time when the hemisphere is promoting important continental integration projects.
The Peruvian government reiterates once again its firm position of respect for international treaties and reaffirms its decision to guarantee its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The National Defence Council, which is presided over by Constitutional President Alberto Fujimori, is in permanent session.
President Fujimori’s statement on the role of the armed forces, 26 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “PERU; Fujimori says armed forces guarantee national sovereignty,” 28 January 1995. Retrieved 18 September 2012 from LexisNexis Academic.
Text of Peruvian Programas del Peru radio report
President Alberto Fujimori emphasized today that the armed forces guarantee the country’s sovereignty, in reference to the recent events at the Ecuadoran border.
President Fujimori also said that the military institutions, as part of the state, contribute to the development of our country.
[Fujimori – recording] I would like to reiterate once more that the army and the armed forces in general are not only in their garrisons. They are on alert to defend the sovereignty of the national territory, but at the same time they are contributing, as part of the state, to the development of the country.
President Duran Ballen address to the nation, 28 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Government reaction: President Duran Ballen addresses nation, announces state of emergency,” 30 January 1995. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic, 18 September 2012.
Text, as broadcast live by Quito radio, of speech by Ecuadoran President Sixto Duran Ballen in Quito
Fellow citizens, even though I have addressed you on various occasions, today I am doing so at a crucial time for our fatherland. The situation demands a responsible, generous attitude, full of patriotic spirit, from every Ecuadoran.
I must inform you that despite the efforts conducted by your government, by me personally, with the purpose of preventing the situation from worsening, the presence in the national territory of Peruvian military forces provoked the confrontation that took place yesterday afternoon. According to Peruvian reports, an Ecuadoran helicopter bombed a Peruvian sentry post. This is absolutely false. According to reports available publicly, the president of Peru has ordered the expulsion of our forces now occupying Ecuadoran territory . If this occurs, clashes of a greater magnitude will be provoked.
The Ecuadoran people already know how serious this situation is. Despite all diplomatic efforts, it has not been possible to achieve a peaceful solution to restore the citizens’ tranquillity, which has been disrupted.
Today Peruvian forces attacked the area of La Cueva de los Tayos, as well as the Teniente Ortiz and Etsa detachments. Throughout the day, clashes have been limited to those areas. Peruvian helicopters also attacked the Soldado Monge detachment along the edge of the Cenepa River.
The Ecuadoran government has informed the governments of the Americas about the situation we are experiencing. We have asked some of them to mediate, especially Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States, with the purpose of preventing the tension from intensifying.
We have also notified the OAS secretary-general, with whom we have spoken many times. We have also spoken with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, as requested by President Clinton.
Former [Colombian] President Cesar Gaviria will visit this capital tomorrow; he will subsequently visit Lima. His participation will be very fruitful, I am sure.
I have also held telephone conversations with the presidents of the Republics of Colombia and Venezuela. We have obtained the invaluable and favourable commitment to reach an understanding.
I have also held talks with the president of Peru for the purpose of preserving the peaceful coexistence of our peoples.
I must tell you that I have always had the total support of the National Security Council.
Ecuadoran army troops remain at the mouth of Cenepa River carrying out their duties in defending the territory where Ecuador has exercised its sovereignty for a long time, for many decades. Peru wants us to abandon this region so it can occupy it without observing a geographic reality: There is not just one separation between the Zamora and Santiago Rivers but two separations, one between the Zamora River and the Cenepa River and another between the Cenepa River and the Santiago River.
Our armed forces will remain firm in the fulfillment of their sacred duty with the faith and affection of the entire people, who are providing them with their absolute support and solidarity. The army also has the support of the three branches of government, represented here by their three presidents.
My government will continue to exhaust all possible diplomatic resources to preserve peace.
My government will exhaust all peaceful avenues to find a solution to the territorial problem – a solution that is just, realistic and worthy of the two countries – and it will do so in a concrete manner, given the incidents that have been taking place along the southeastern border. However, complying with my obligations towards the country and the Ecuadoran people and in keeping with Ecuador’s firm aspiration for peace, today I have had to declare a state of emergency and national mobilization. The cabinet ministers and I signed this decree today.
Citizens, I ask you to maintain the calm and unity that reflect favourably upon you, as well as the absolute determination to defend our country’s integrity and honour. Good evening, my fellow citizens.
President Duran-Ballen’s radio address following meeting with Ecuadorean leaders, 28 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Ecuadoran president blames clashes on Peru’s ‘treacherous acts’”, 31 January 1995. Retrieved 18 September 2012 from LexisNexis Academic.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. America is determined to enforce the demands of the United Nations Security Council by confronting the grave and growing danger of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. This dictator will not be allowed to intimidate and blackmail the civilized world, or to supply his terrible weapons to terrorist groups, who would not hesitate to use them against us. The safety of the American people depends on ending this threat.
But America’s cause is always larger than America’s security. We also stand for the advance of freedom and opportunity and hope. The lives and freedom of the Iraqi people matter little to Saddam Hussein, but they matter greatly to us.
Saddam Hussein has a long history of brutal crimes, especially in time of war — even against his own citizens. If conflict comes, he could target civilians or place them inside military facilities. He could encourage ethnic violence. He could destroy natural resources. Or, worst of all, he could use his weapons of mass destruction.
In order to minimize the suffering of Iraq’s people, the United States and our coalition partners stand ready to provide vital help. We will deliver medicine to the sick, and make sure that Iraq’s 55,000 food distribution sites, operating with supplies from the oil-for-food program, are stocked and open as soon a possible. We are stockpiling relief supplies, such as blankets and water containers, for one million people. We are moving into place nearly three million emergency rations to feed the hungry. The United States and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and to such groups as the World Food Program and UNICEF, so they will be ready to provide emergency aid to the Iraqi people.
We will also lead in carrying out the urgent and dangerous work of destroying chemical and biological weapons. We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos, or settle scores, or threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq. And we will seek to protect Iraq’s natural resources from sabotage by a dying regime, and ensure they are used for the benefit of Iraq’s own people.
The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq’s new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected.
Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own. We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more. America has made and kept this kind of commitment before — in the peace that followed World War II. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies; we left constitutions and parliaments. We did not leave behind permanent foes; we found new friends and allies.
There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. They were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They, too, are mistaken. The nation of Iraq — with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people — is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom.
It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. Yet the security of our nation and the hopes of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time.
Thank you for listening.
President Duran-Ballen’s announcement of further clashes with Peru, 28 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Ecuadoran president announces fresh clash with Peru on 28th January,” 31 January 1995. Retrieved 18 September 2012 from LexisNexis Academic.
Text of Ecuadoran radio report by Edwin Chamorro and Leyla Carriel from Carondelet Palace in Quito
[Chamorro] Good morning, dear listeners. We are here at the presidential palace to bring you information on what is happening at the border. President Sixto Duran Ballen reported that Peru had again attacked Ecuadoran detachments, but our country’s army remained at the border, repelling the attacks perpetrated by our southern neighbour. He has reasserted that Ecuador is not the aggressor country. He made these statements prior to a meeting with former Ecuadoran presidents and vice-presidents, whom he summoned.
We note the presence of former Presidents Leon Febres Cordero, Dr Rodrigo Borja Zevallos, Dr Osvaldo Hurtado Larrea. These presidents were elected by our people. The vice-presidents who have arrived include Dr Leon Roldos Aguilera, Luis Parodi Valverde and Jorge Zavala Baquerizo.
The president of the republic held a ceremony moments ago in one of the presidential palace’s rooms. He thanked them for their participation in a private meeting that began a few seconds ago, to show unity in facing the current crisis. Let us hear the speech he gave and the pertinent information given by President Sixto Duran Ballen after the national anthem of Ecuador was played.
[Duran Ballen – recording] Messrs former presidents of the Republic of Ecuador, Messrs former vice-presidents, Mr Foreign Minister of the republic, fellow citizens, all. In these times, when we live with great intensity [words indistinct] preliminary steps [words indistinct] process of a crisis at the border, it was logical and necessary for the president of the republic to seek the advice of those who previously had – as I currently have – the enormous task, the enormous responsibility, of ruling the nation.
We will hold a working meeting with these former presidents as the country is fortunate enough that they are still alive. The same goes for their vice-presidents. I have also invited [words indistinct] to the meeting. He agreed to attend the meeting but later sent his apologies. Likewise, we could not possibly invite former Vice -President Blasco Penaherrera because he is out of the country. He is currently on a diplomatic mission in Washington – [pauses] at the OAS . However, the rest of the former presidents and vice-presidents of the country are here.
I want to meet them and exchange views on what has been done and what should be done concerning the processes that the Ecuadoran government has reported to the guarantor countries, international organizations, the OAS and the United Nations. This will serve as the basis for the discussion of the steps our country must take, and has been taking, to once more fulfil with dignity – but with the assurance that our armed forces [words indistinct]. [End of recording]
Dear Voz de los Andes listeners, you are listening to President Sixto Duran Ballen addressing the country and, particularly, former presidents and vice-presidents of the republic who have arrived at the presidential palace.
[Duran Ballen – recording, in progress] – the positions we have traditionally occupied. This is quite clear. We have not invaded Peruvian territory. We have defended and protected the positions that we have along a status quo line, an ad hoc line, and which has prevailed for various decades. We are in a part where the border has yet to be defined given the geographic reality. We are within what we consider our legitimate rights.
The presence here of former Ecuadoran constitutional presidents and vice-presidents, the presence of this group of Ecuadoran citizens who at a given moment had great responsibility and who belong to various national political groups, speaks plenty of Ecuador’s current sense of civic-mindness and is a reaction of national unity. Present here are presidents who reached power legitimately, backed by a diversity of political feelings and who did not hesitate for a moment to respond to the president’s call for them to be here right now to show the country that we are united. Despite the various differences we may have, in a crisis such as the current one, we can come together and join efforts and minds to look for a solution and adopt a uniform position in the face if this tremendous problem.
For your information, first thing this morning, at 1245 gmt, a new incident took place involving some of the detachments at the source of the Cenepa River. As in the previous incidents, our garrisons have repelled this new attack. Weapons fire was returned and as a result, they have withdrawn, just like they did yesterday, from the various places where the Ecuadoran armed forces are maintaining their positions. My categoric instructions to the armed forces are not to enter territory beyond the line where Pocuo [phonetic] is located.
We are defending the places where we have been for many decades. We have not, as has been said, and I want to say this in front of you distinguished foreign journalists – [pauses] I want to categorically deny that we were the attackers. We have been in these positions and it was the Ecuadoran forces who were attacked by helicopters, which bombed some of the positions, and by land patrols. We have repelled each and every one of these attacks and we will not back down, we will not cede.
With the participation of friendly countries and international organizations – and we have so stated in response to a new proposal by the group of guarantors – undoubtedly ready to accept a cease-fire, but a cease-fire that will not mean, as it has meant on many past occasions, a setback in Ecuadoran (?positions).
As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I have said this very categorically: We are going to maintain our legitimate positions with the legitimate right we have to be present in those places.
Once more I want to reiterate before the country the Ecuadoran president’s recognition of the group of gentlemen citizens present here, who put aside the differences that we had and undoubtedly will continue having in the future. Each and every one of them has been motivated only by the affection for their beloved fatherland and will hopefully emerge with a united position.
I invite the former presidents and vice presidents to please accompany me to the cabinet room where we will hold the private working session. Many thanks for your attendance. [Applause]
President Duran Ballen speech in Independence Plaza, 29 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Ecuador’s rejection mediation commission’s proposal,” 31 January 1995. Retrieved 18 September 2012 from LexisNexis Academic.
Text, as broadcast recorded by Ecuadoran radio, of speech by Ecuadoran President Sixto Duran Ballen to crowd gathered in Independence Plaza at the Government Palace in Quito on 29th January
Fellow citizens: I am very proud of my people. I am very proud of the Ecuadorans who confirmed yesterday, through the presence of all the former presidents – seven presidents and vice-presidents of former governments – that in matters of our integrity and sovereignty, Ecuador is united before the world and any who want to offend us. [Cheers, people chanting: Ecuador! Ecuador!]
Twenty-four hours after the events began, the mediation commission asked if Ecuador would accept a cease-fire that would call for us to demilitarize an area and withdraw to other places, I said: No. I said: No. [Cheers and Applause] I said no to withdrawal because this has been the path that has always been taken throughout the 164 years of our republic’s history. Every time this happened, they wanted Ecuador to withdraw. This time we will not withdraw. [Crowd chants: Ecuador! Ecuador! Ecuador!]
I granted an interview to one of the foreign correspondents and, when he told me that we were the attackers, I told him: Condor and Miradores are Ecuadoran. Tayos is Ecuadoran. Coangos is Ecuadoran. Base Sur and Chiguenda are Ecuadoran. Teniente Ortiz, Teniente Ortiz is Ecuadoran. Etza is Ecuadoran. Soldado Monje is an Ecuadoran place. Which of these names, mister journalist, is a Peruvian city, community, or detachment? This means that Ecuador is the one that was attacked. None of our positions are Peruvian posts. Therefore, we are not the attackers. They are the ones who traditionally [words indistinct] for us to withdraw. We are not going to withdraw.
Our armed forces, which represent all the Ecuadorans who are here, are standing firm in the knowledge that the decision of their commander-in-chief, the Armed Forces Joint Command, the cabinet, the National Security Council is to stay there and stand firm in our positions. We will only accept an unconditional cease-fire if it will allow us, through legal and juridical means, to finally define our border in peace and with dignity. We will not withdraw. Viva Ecuador! [People shout: Viva!]
President Duran-Ballen’s speech to students in Independence Plaza, 31 January 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “President Duran Ballen tells students Ecuador will reach the Amazon River,” 2 February 1995. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic, 18 September 2012.
Text, as broadcast live by Ecuadoran Voice of the Andes radio, of speech by Ecuadoran President Sixto Duran Ballen from the Presidential Palace to students gathered at the Plaza de la Independencia in Quito
I have been here with the young people so many times that I am growing aphonic little by little, so I beg you to listen to me.
Ecuador has demonstrated to the world, to Latin America, and to our neighbour that it is united and that it is decided not to move backwards this time. We shall stay put where we are [crowd cheers].
Today, following the firm position your president has adopted because he felt the backing of his people and the young people, we have the fruit of firmness, an unconditional cease-fire without being forced to withdraw, as was always the case in the past.
We are staying where we were for the first time in our history. We have not taken one single step backwards. [Crowd cheers]
Fellow citizens, now, with the participation of friendly countries, of the OAS, and through any kind of mediation, we are going to recover through dialogue our aspiration territorially and in a continuant manner to reach the Amazon River, the river discovered by a commission that left from this Quito plaza. Referring to that expedition, a plaque here establishes that they left from here to the Amazon River, which was known as the Quito River for a long time.
We are going to recover our rights as an Amazonian country thanks to the backing we have from the Ecuadoran people and young people.
Viva Ecuador! Ecuador! Ecuador!
Thank you, young Ecuadoran people. Remain alert and keep this spirit of unity to be able to achieve this recovery with your backing. Thank you, Ecuadoran people, thank you, young people.
President Duran Ballen outlines the Ecuador-Peru dispute, 1 February 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Duran Ballen outlines Ecuador-Peru dispute, stresses willingness to negotiate,” 2 February 1995. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic, 18 September 2012.
Text of live broadcast by Ecuadoran radio of opening statement by Ecuadoran President Sixto Duran Ballen at a news conference held by Foreign Minister Galo Leoro, Defence Minister Jose Gallardo and the presidential press secretary with unidentified moderator and international and local reporters in the auditorium of the Latin American Centre for Advanced Journalism Studies, CIESPAL, in Quito
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As many of you have seen on Ecuadoran television, over the last couple of days I have had to go out onto the presidential palace balcony to thank the Ecuadoran people, the people of Pichincha, the people of Quito. I have lost my voice a bit, so if you cannot hear me well, I beg your forgiveness. I also want to express my appreciation to [word indistinct] and through him to all international television, the news media present here, to the [word indistinct] of the country for giving us this opportunity, to the ministers who are here, and to my cabinet members for being able to present some aspects of my country’s views regarding the unfortunate events of these last few days, events which never should have happened.
We did not provoke these events. Some media here and abroad have said repeatedly that we have been labelled as the aggressor. It would be well to ask if any of the sites that you and the other reporters have indicated as the scene of the events are places where Peruvian citizens live and work. None of them – we could mention eight, nine or 10 towns that have been published by the national and international press over the past few days – Condor Mirador, Cueva de los Tayos, Base Sur, Tihuano, Tihuinza, Soldado Monge, Teniente Ortiz, Iza – none of these towns is inhabited or has been inhabited by Peruvians for a long time. Each and every one of these places is inhabited by Ecuadorans. On the contrary, none of you can say at this moment that any other town or location in which there has been fighting over the past few days is Peruvian. How can we be the aggressors if the sites that were attacked are all Ecuadoran towns? It cannot be said that we in any way, not even in the slightest way, touched sites occupied by Peru.
We can definitely certify with our own information [words indistinct] that the sites that have been attacked were all inhabited by Ecuadoran citizens, some of them wearing uniforms, others in civilian clothes. These people normally live near military installations to work for the development of the small town by providing supplies and other provisions.
It must be clear: If all the places where these events have taken place since 11th January are Ecuadoran, we are not the attackers. It means we are the victims of the attack.
Perhaps many of you have heard explanations in the last few days about the Ecuadoran reality, but please allow me to go back – I am not going back to prehistoric times – to briefly mention what our country looked like before 1942, and what it supposedly looks like after 1942.
Before 1942, Ecuador’s boundaries were the ones shown on this map. They are highlighted here with a red line. In 1942, after being invaded by Peru, we eventually signed the so-called Rio de Janeiro Protocol. We must remember the circumstances in the hemisphere at that time. A few months before, a few weeks before, Japan had bombed Pearl Harbour. Not only the United States but the entire continent entered the war. Some actively joined the war effort by deploying military units which cooperated with the US government. Other countries also cooperated. Ecuador, for example, contributed with sites like Salinas and the Galapagos [words indistinct]. A change in crop cultivation took place here. Balsa, rubber and similar crops were cultivated to help the war effort.
Ecuador, this small country, was sacrificed. Hasty actions were taken, even without any knowledge of our geographic reality, as I am going to prove later. Ecuador suffered a serious blow: 55 per cent of its territory was given to the Republic of Peru in this protocol.
A line was drawn from the area of Guepi, on the border with Colombia – an easily identifiable demarcation was drawn – to a certain site, the impossibility of which was later made obvious by the geographic reality. I am going to talk about that later.
The border was drawn this way. A number of border markers were placed up to the San Francisco creek.
But before I refer to this zone, allow me to point out certain things to you. The occupation process of this eastern part of Ecuador – a process to which we think we have been rightfully entitled throughout our history – consisted of hacking our way down the mountain range until we reached a river where Ecuadoran settlers could sail a canoe, and further down a large vessel. We managed to reach certain towns beyond this line.
The first genuine physical sacrifice was made by residents of several towns along these rivers. How can one then explain, for example, that today there is a town in Peru called Baquerizo Moreno, the name of one of our presidents from early in the century? Would a neighbouring republic honour one of our presidents? How can one explain that along another river there is a town called Gonzalez Far, the name of a famous archbishop-historian, the archbishop of Quito, who dates back to early in the century? How can one explain that there is a town here called Tarsi [phonetic], which was named after the Tarsi found near the city of Cuenca? That place was the site of a battle – before we became a republic and were part of Gran Colombia in 1829 – that was precisely an incident provoked by our neighbour to the south. They (?attacked us). That was a great Ecuadoran victory. Would they name it after something that meant exactly the opposite? The answer is no.
We could talk about other names such as [words indistinct] that are typical Ecuadoran names. We were prompted to retreat from here. There was definitely an attempt to harm Ecuador. Let us now move on to the actual site.
You have probably heard on many occasions that – since we are recalling this, let’s talk about it – the protocol specified that starting at this site, which is the confluence of the Santiago and Yaupi Rivers, the water divider should be followed; that is, the divortium [so] aquarum between the Santiago and Zamora Rivers.
The two countries, Peru and Ecuador, had an idea, not a complete picture, of a geographic area. We had seen [words indistinct] mountains of a certain altitude. There were relatively high, but not as high as the Andes. In certain places they reached about 2,000 metres. We knew about the existence of some large mountains on this side, and they knew about large mountains on the other side. The two countries and the guarantors were unaware of the geographical reality of this area. We were completely unaware of it and thought that there was only one water divider. At a given time – we are talking about the forties, when there was the issue of border markers up to this point – two versions immediately came up. The first was in the sense that it was between the Santiago River and the Cenepa River, which on old maps is only a few kilometres long north of the Amazon River. In reality it is about 200 km [words indistinct].
The appearance of this river, of this basin located in the middle, which is clearly visible on this map, created a new geographic situation. Neither the guarantors nor our two countries knew about this basin in the middle. When [words indistinct] the first option was to come through this mountain range, and the other option was through this side, which is the one that the Republic of Peru has maintained since then.
This is inapplicable. I can make the following analysis because we are dealing with a document – a protocol is a formal document – and we must try to interpret it and identify the spirit of that document.
Let us assume for a moment that this river did not exist; that a single large mountain range existed [words indistinct] and the spirit was to continue along the summit. We would have necessarily reached – and we are talking about the water divider – we would have at a given moment ended up in the Amazon River. That means the spirit of the protocol was always that Ecuador remain an Amazonian country.
The inapplicability of the protocol in this area was denounced by President Galo Plaza Lasso, who was in office from 1948 to 1952. He said at that time that the protocol was inapplicable. We have remained there, but Peru has continued to advance. It has arbitrarily established a line and plans to close it.
When I spoke to President Fujimori just a few days ago, he told me he was willing to follow the protocol and rechart the border along the summit of the Condor Mountain Range and the Cenepa riverbed. I had to interrupt him to say: Mr President, please tell me, tell me colleague, where does the protocol mention the Condor Mountain Range, and where does the protocol mention the Cenepa River? This belated unilateral interpretation is unacceptable to Ecuador.
Let’s not talk about 40 years of history but concentrate on the present. After capturing four units of a Peruvian military patrol on 9th January, in accordance with the instructions given to armies on both sides of the border, they were sent back where they came from. As it was rather late, they were given shelter for the night. They were released the following day, 10th January, at the Soldado Ponce Garrison in Peru.
The very next day, 11th January, we encountered another Peruvian patrol. This time there were 10, 12, perhaps 14 soldiers. It is difficult to say because they responded with gunfire when we asked them to identify themselves, as established by standard operating procedure. From that day on, military action increased. There have been days with no incidents, but we have been repeatedly attacked in two, four, and even in all nine towns or garrisons I listed when I began.
Immediately after the first incident on 11th January, I called OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria to advise him of the situation. We belong to this regional organization, and in accordance with the OAS charter, we can bring this type of situation before it.
The next day I called a meeting of the Ecuadoran government’s National Security Council. The council unanimously decided that I should notify the guarantor nations of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol. Note that I say guarantors, not friends. I say guarantors because there is a document that is in effect, even though Ecuador does not recognize its validity. Aside from our right to call on the OAS, it is the only legal instrument we have for finding a solution to this problem.
The guarantor nations met, and within 24 they asked me if I would agree to demilitarize the region where the clashes were taking place and have each country redeploy its troops. I immediately answered with a flat no. We know what will happen. Ecuador has almost 165 years of experience in its independent life. That is the process our neighbour has used every time to gain more and more territory at Ecuador’s expense. An incident is created; someone intervenes; a cease-fire is called; then a retreat; then they occupy the places Ecuador vacated. I will not let this happen again. As I said before, my responsibility as president of the Republic is to safeguard the country’s integrity; to maintain its territorial sovereignty. I swore to do this on 10th August 1992, and I must keep that promise. That is what I am doing now. I will not give up a single centimetre. We will remain in these positions. We have a right to them.
Some of the villages I have mentioned, such as Soldado Monge – [pauses] Soldado Monge lies upriver from the confluence of the Santiago and Yaupi Rivers. Here at this point is Soldado Monge. It is farther upriver from the disputed area. Why did they bomb it?
We have two other villages here. Oh, by the way, Soldado Monge was founded in 1938, four years before the Rio de Janeiro Protocol. When the line was drawn, it ended up on the line, and therefore it belongs to Ecuador. There is no doubt about that, and yet, it was bombed. It has been attacked.
We have two other villages, Teniente Ortiz and Etza. We have full rights over Etza, because it lies on the accepted border line. Etza was founded in 1991. It is the only one of the detachments and villages that was founded after the [words indistinct].
All of the remaining villages, detachments, and military installations were established prior to 1981. Some of them were founded in 1969.
After explaining the situation to the OAS through its secretary-general, we began talks with the guarantor countries. When there was talk about a cease-fire, either with the participation of Dr Gaviria or with the participation of the guarantor countries, I always maintained that Ecuador could accept an unconditional cease-fire.
Once this cease-fire was established, we could sit down at a table before any one of the international organizations or before the guarantor countries. We talked about different options to discuss and talk about the problem.
The Republic of Peru has been delaying its reply on this request. Different options were raised. I have always maintained my position that reflects the opinion of the Ecuadoran people: to hold a dialogue, but after an unconditional cease-fire.
We have always maintained the status quo position – a position maintained for decades. We have lived with an ad hoc line, and because of the fact that it has not been delimited, neither country has, let us say, a land title deed. We have the same rights to this land that Peruvian citizens and detachments to the south have. If we are accused of being in Peruvian territory, we could say that they are occupying lands that belong to Ecuador. The border has not been closed in that area. It is a part of the border on which we have not reached a bilateral agreement for the allocation of land to each country. No international court – the International Court of Justice at The Hague, for example – has handed down a ruling on this border. There has been no ruling, but for A, B or Z reasons, we have remained in this situation for four decades. We have not sat down at the negotiating table to seek a fair solution to the aspirations and needs of the two countries – something which could allow Ecuador to maintain the spirit of the protocol as an Amazon country.
Ecuador is a country that needs to have territorial and sovereign continuity, including a port on the Amazon River.
I talked to President Fujimori about this when he came to Ecuador in 1992 on the occasion of my presidential inauguration.
Later, we spoke again, and we did so on more than one occasion. I believed, fellow countrymen and friendly visitors, that because both of us were technicians, begging the pardon of the politicians who are present here – albeit diverse politicians, but nevertheless what is normally understood as politicians – that because we were both technicians, we should view things objectively and would find that there is a geographic reality that prevents the enforcement of the protocol. Therefore, we would have to continue to engage in and maintain the dialogue, with the goodwill of everyone without exception, including President Fujimori of Peru, who expressed Peru’s commitment to dialogue on the occasion of the Miami summit called by President Clinton just a few weeks earlier.
We can resolve our problems through talks and dialogue, through technical arguments, but not through the use of force, weapons, or aggression, and not through these surprising actions that have been taken. We have plenty of examples from around the world, in every part of the world in which there are problems like ours. If the problem that persisted for almost the same amount of time between Israel and Arab countries has been solved, why not a situation here involving two countries that have the same blood running through their veins, the same ethnic upbringing, and the same religion? Two countries that have complementary economies, two countries that have a place within the Andean regional market and the Latin American regional market, within the continent itself – a market we all have committed ourselves to join, without exception, by the year 2005 – why can we not resolve our differences? Why cause this unfortunate situation that paralyses the development of both countries? Why should one country attack another? I have heard newsmen ask me: could this be politically motivated?
As a human being, I refuse, and I repeat, I refuse to believe that human lives – no matter whose they are, Ecuadorans, Peruvians – can be sacrificed for nothing more than political reasons. I refuse to believe this. As a human being, it is difficult for me to believe that in the mind of someone else there can be a carefree attitude regarding the lives of people from either country, of many people, some of whom have been mutilated, wounded or forced to rebuild their lives. I truly think it would be disgraceful if this were the reason.
On the other hand, if this is being done out of the desire to conquer new territories, or to recover them, I quote them when they say there is first the mechanism of the Rio Protocol, to which they resort, as well as regional and world mechanisms, to which one can resort to resolve problems of this kind.
Yesterday, at the end of several working meetings – some here, some in Lima, others in Brazil – we agreed, through the action of the guarantor countries of the Rio Protocol to accept a cease-fire. The only thing left to be done was to declare the cease-fire agreement and to establish the effective deadline for its implementation – a time for implementation, which my government at a given moment said could be at 0600, 0800, midday – in other words, as early as possible – to prevent an additional loss of lives. The Peruvian government advised us that, because of communications network, it could not implement this until perhaps 1800. We agreed it could be implemented and the announcement was made by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, which was serving as mediator for the two sides. It was more than a mediator, it was a coordinator for the four guarantor countries. There was no objection to making the announcement at 0800. I suppose there was joy over there. We have been waiting all day for the hour when the cease-fire will take effect.
We were willing to accept any time, which, according to them, could not be set up before 1800 due to technical difficulties. However, not only was the time not established before 1800, but moments before we arrived at this session, we still did not have any information on the time the cease-fire would go into effect.
Some of you here have told me that a Peruvian television channel just reported that the president had agreed to the cease-fire. I am not aware of such information or the time it was disclosed, if that is what has happened.
Undoubtedly, the spirit of the agreement reached yesterday was that hostilities would end today. It was immaterial if it was at 0600, midday, 1800 or midnight, but it was to be today. That is why a meeting of deputy ministers was convoked. I indicated that the Ecuadoran delegation would go as soon as I was told that the cease-fire had been accepted for today, without giving a time for it. Our deputy foreign minister and one or two advisers have departed and should be in Rio already. I instructed the deputy foreign minister that if the time for the cease-fire had not been established when the meeting began, he was to leave on record that the agreement had not been complied with and then leave the meeting.
Ladies and gentlemen: These are the events that have led to this serious situation. Ecuador is a peaceful country; a country that has never attacked its neighbours; a country that believes firmly in peace and that all means for dialogue must be exhausted to achieve peace. This is how, once again, Ecuador was unexpectedly attacked.
However, we were willing, from the first moment we were asked, to begin talks with an established position to seek the fairest solution for both countries. This would be done based on the fact that there was a geographic reality which – as I believe I have proved to you – made it impossible to execute the part of the agreement to demarcate the border between the two countries. The ministers who will remain to answer your questions will probably, at your request, expand on my remarks on the historical process, and particularly on recent events.
I want to reiterate the peaceful resolve of my country. Once again, I want to reiterate to you that Ecuador respects international organizations and has demonstrated that fact throughout our republican history. Nevertheless, my administration also has an obligation towards the Ecuadoran people. We will not return from where we now stand because we are legally entitled to be where we are, hoisting our national flag. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. [Applause]
President Fujimori’s televised address, 1 February 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Peruvian president proposes buffer zone,” 1 February 1995. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic on 18 September 2012.
Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori Wednesday proposed the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone in the border territory disputed by Peru and Ecuador as a permanent solution to the armed conflict between the two countries. In a televized message transmitted on all channels, Fujimori said Peru would demobilize or retire from the area where there is fighting if there was a ceasefire agreement and his proposal was accepted by Ecuador. ”We propose a ceasefire with the creation of a demilitarized zone,” Fujimori said. He said that the area along the 78-km (48-mile) stretch of border that is unmarked and claimed by both sides should be free of troops and the accord should be overseen by the countries that guaranteed the Rio de Janeiro Protocol defining the border in 1941: Argentina, Chile, Brazil and the United States. Earlier, a news report by Lima’s Channel 4 reported there were 50 dead in fighting between Ecuadorean and Peruvian troops in the area of the Cordillera del Condor, some 1,200 km (746 miles) north of Lima. According to the report, there were 10 Peruvians among the dead, and the rest were Ecuadoreans. Fujimori did not give any details about the fighting or of casualties in his message. He said, ”Under no circumstances has Peru remained nor will remain impassive or tolerant before a violation of our national sovereignty.” ”National sovereignty is not negotiable,” he said. The president said the was that Peru and Ecuador should fight was not between the two of them but against underdevelopment and for that reason his government was proposing a ”permanent solution” to the historic and costly territorial dispute. Clashes between Ecuadorean and Peruvian troops started eight days ago with the two countries accusing one another of invading their territory.
Peruvian Foreign Minister’s news conference on border situation, 1 February 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Foreign minister holds news conference on border situation,” 2 February 1995. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic on 18 September 2012.
Text of report by Peruvian Programas del Peru radio
Foreign Minister Efrain Goldenberg, who is also president of the Council of Ministers, has said that no commitment has yet been adopted concerning a cease-fire with Ecuador, taking into account the fact that the meeting of deputy foreign ministers has not yet begun. He said that the Ecuadoran deputy foreign minister was on his way to Rio de Janeiro now. Goldenberg made these remarks during a news conference he granted at the end of the Congressional Leadership Council meeting. He said that no organized Ecuadoran troops were found in our territory but only some Ecuadoran soldiers who had stayed behind. Listen to a passage of his news conference:
[Goldenberg – recording] The meeting has not yet begun, and the Ecuadoran delegates will arrive at 2230 Rio de Janeiro time. [End of recording]
This was the answer he gave to a question on whether a cease-fire or cessation of hostilities was reached:
[Goldenberg – recording] Well, it is probable that there may be some soldiers who have fallen behind, or some Ecuadoran elements who might still be in the zone.
[Goldenberg] Well, that would be a unilateral decision as a demonstration of the confidence we have in the activity and the possibility that everything will be solved reasonably. But as I just said, everything is subject to the talks that will be held.
[Goldenberg] For Peru it is by no means acceptable that Ecuadoran troops [words indistinct] on Peruvian territory. This is impossible. That there could be some soldiers who have stayed behind is one thing ; whether this is acceptable for our country is quite another thing. These are two absolutely different concepts.
[Goldenberg] We are not yet talking about a cease-fire. We are talking about the suspension of military operations, and we must assume that there are no organized Ecuadoran troops within the Peruvian territory. [End recording]
Goldenberg also said that the Peruvian armed forces could decide on a suspension of military operations if the talks were led in this way by the Foreign Ministry. He also said that planes and artillery could be withdrawn, including the military equipment placed there to defend the national integrity. The president of the Council of Ministers also denied the reports released in Ecuador about the deaths of 20 Peruvian soldiers in the border conflict. He said that the number of casualties was much lower. He did not, however, give an exact number of Peruvian casualties in this conflict.
He also released a communique issued at the end of the Leadership Council meeting held in congress. The text of the communique states: The national congress agrees to express its categorical rejection of the aggressive attitude and of the violation of the national territory by Ecuadoran armed forces’troops, and of the continuous harassment directed against Peruvian citizens living in Ecuador.
The second point of the six-point document states: To reaffirm its irrevocable commitment in defence of the territorial integrity and of the national sovereignty.
Third, to stress the peaceful inclination of Peru and its objective to maintain friendly relations with Ecuador, based on the absolute validity of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol and of the Diaz de Aguilar arbiter’s award.
Fourth, to express our decision to act jointly in this sense, supporting the government actions that will help conclude the demarcation of our border with Ecuador, within the terms of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol and the Diaz de Aguilar arbiter’s award.
Fifth, to urge the guarantor countries of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol to actively assume the commitment that corresponds to them to conclude the final and total demarcation of the border in the Condor Mountain region.
Sixth, to declare the Congressional Leadership Council of the Constituent Democratic Congress in continuous session.
This document was signed unanimously by all members of the Congressional Leadership Council
Interview with Peruvian Foreign Minister, 6 February 1995 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Peruvian foreign minister interviewed on border conflict, diplomatic moves,” 7 February 1995. Retrieved 18 September 2012 from LexisNexis Academic.
Text of live interview, broadcast by Peruvian Panamericana TV, with Peruvian Foreign Minister Efrain Goldenberg by presenter Guido Lombardi, at the Panamericana Studios in Lima, on the “Panorama” programme; subheadings added editorially
[Lombardi] As promised, I am here with Foreign Minister Efrain Goldenberg, who agreed to answer questions drafted by “Panorama” . Good evening, foreign minister. Thank you for coming.
[Goldenberg] Good evening, Guido. Thank you for inviting me.
“This is not a war; it is, fortunately, a localized situation”
[Q] I must confess that I never imagined I would have the privilege – because it is a privilege – of interviewing a foreign minister at a time when the country is involved in a war. Indeed, we are at war, are we not?
[A] I would say we are involved in a conflict. War is a slightly weightier word. This is not a war; it is, fortunately, a localized situation. I would say that we are in full control of the situation, and that, in addition, the country can rest assured that not only is reason on our side, together with the security provided by the legal instruments that govern our relationship with our neighbour to the north and our borders, but that we have the means and capability with which to defend our sovereignty.
The Rio de Janeiro Protocol and talks
[Q] Nevertheless, foreign minister, the hope that the conflict would remain localized depended on the Rio meeting. I believe that meeting – and, please, correct me if I am mistaken – can be interpreted as a Peruvian victory, because the guarantor countries have pointed out that they will continue their enormous efforts in an active, permanent and coordinated manner in favour of peace, at least according to their declaration. This active, permanent and coordinated presence is pretty much what Peru had always called for. Does your interpretation concur with mine?
[A] Fully. For many years we have maintained, and rightfully so, that the Rio de Janeiro Protocol was completely valid and that it was necessary for the guarantors to be involved to the extent established under the protocol. From that viewpoint, the Rio meeting is a reaffirmation of the guarantors’ involvement and interest.
[Q] Nevertheless, the guarantors as mediators have not managed to get a peace agreement
signed. They presented a cease-fire proposal which, as I said earlier, gave hope that the conflict would remain localized . What will happen now? Will the conflict spread or will we – and, if so, perhaps Peru’s victory could become pyrrhic – have to go to other forums, which is what Ecuador has been insisting upon?
[A] I would say the conflict is still localized and that we should have no fear whatsoever in bringing this problem to other forums. Although the OAS is one possibility, we must remember that a summons from the OAS would be within the framework of the protocol, reaffirming the validity of the protocol and the validity of the guarantors’ role. That would be the nature of an OAS summons. I believe we should not be at all concerned about this and that, regardless of the forum, Peru will be able to maintain its position because the law is on its side.
The “information war”
[Q] However, foreign minister, we have somehow lost the information war, as it has been called, and this is unfortunate, because to some extent it is a war that affects me directly. Peru, on an international level, is viewed as the aggressor. Internationally, there is a certain identification with Ecuador. Internationally, the lies that Ecuador has been reiterating regarding the protocol; 200,000 km of territory; and the denial, which it claims was imposed by force, of access to the Amazon have been echoed. How can we not fear other forums, when this campaign – a campaign that is well -planned and perhaps not well-neutralized by Peru – has been able to echo abroad?
[A] First, I want to point out something that was said a moment ago. The OAS security system is not in any way exclusive; it complements the mechanism of the guarantors. This is what happened in 1981 at the time of the [words indistinct] case, when the two systems complemented one another.
[Q] Are you saying this is what may eventually happen within the next few days?
[A] This is what may happen but not necessarily. The last word has not been spoken but it could happen. Nevertheless, returning to what we discussed about information – namely, the war some say we have lost, the information war – I would instead call it a disinformation war. What I have seen is a variety of attitudes which I thought we had overcome. For instance, speeches from balconies by a person we have not seen among us for many years –
[Lombardi – interrupting] Oh yes, Velasco Ibarra, who even on the 21st –
[Goldenberg – interrupting] Yes, the use of the inflammatory harangue, and the summoning of people based on terms we shall call incorrect, in order not to use another term. I would say that this does not have solid support and that it does not need to be denied on a daily basis. It collapses under its own weight, and we are already seeing this.
For example, we have as evidence the mention of US helicopters that Peru has for its struggle against drug trafficking, which was immediately denied by the US government. In general, the entire world perceives that the attitude of the Peruvian Foreign Ministry and in general the reaction and attitude of the Peruvian government –
[Lombardi – interrupting] Is more serious.
[Goldenberg] Is more serious. We report with seriousness, restraint and the utmost attention. I believe that, in the end, when we talk about this calmly after these events have passed, everyone will agree with us that we did not lose but, rather, won the information war.
More on the talks in Rio
[Q] I want to be the first person to recognize your optimism and to congratulate you for this, Mr Minister. I have my doubts, however. I believe the Peruvian government has acted seriously, and, along these lines, I would like to go back a little and return to Rio and see how decisions were made there. It seems obvious that the Ecuadoran representative, Deputy Foreign Minister Fernandez de Cordoba, did not have the authority that Eduardo Ponce had. Fernandez de Cordoba had to go back and forth, which was not the case with Ponce. How were decisions made, and how was Ambassador Ponce instructed?
[A] We sent a very good delegation to Brazil – a senior delegation headed by Deputy Minister Ponce, who was accompanied by a team of diplomats, including even a retired diplomat, a retired ambassador. It comprised the Foreign Ministry’s best and the country’s best. This team has been working and was in constant contact with the foreign minister and with the president. In addition, we have worked with the National Defence Council, which has been in permanent session during the last few days.
[Q] You have constantly taken part in these meetings?
[A] Constantly. So much so that this can be seen in the quality decisions dispatched from Lima to Rio. Our people in Rio at all times received prompt replies and suggestions, which in some cases were negative when necessary, while sometimes there were acceptances. This permitted our people in Rio to be ready and able to sign the document that the guarantors produced. On the other hand, we have seen the other party and how this document has gone for more than 24 hours without even receiving a negative reply – no reply whatsoever. They have been unable to make a decision.
The role of the guarantor nations of the Rio Protocol; contacts with other countries
[Q] Foreign Minister, we shall take a quick break [for advertisements, announcements, etc.] but still to come is a series of anxieties, doubts and issues about which I believe you should inform the country. I shall ask you about them after the break. We shall be back shortly.
[Continues after break] We are now continuing our dialogue with Foreign Minister Efrain Goldenberg on the northern border conflict. You have refrained from calling it a war, foreign minister. I believe this position is reasonable as long the conflict remains localized at this one area along our border. Let us hope that it does not spread from this area. In commenting on the guarantor nations’communique, you have already implicitly provided your opinion of the role played by these nations. However, I would like an explicit answer with respect to your assessment of the guarantor nations’ role in this dispute.
[A] The guarantor nations have made a tremendous effort in these past few days. They have worked very hard, together with the Peruvian and Ecuadoran delegates, and, in this respect, they deserve our acknowledgement. Unfortunately, the position adopted by the Ecuadoran delegates or, I should say, by the Ecuadoran government, has not allowed the signing of a document that would have enabled an immediate cease-fire. This would have also allowed all parties involved to have a certain degree of confidence and respect and it would have afforded the much sought after withdrawal with dignity. Nevertheless, contacts with the guarantor nations not only took place in Rio de Janeiro. We have been in been in constant contact with the foreign ministers of the guarantor nations from Lima, too. For example, I personally have established repeated contacts with several foreign ministers, not only from the guarantor nations but –
[Lombardi – interrupting] Please forgive me for interrupting. If you have held the talks you just mentioned, then how can you explain statements such as those made by Argentine Foreign Minister Guido di Tella? Even if Peru is not apprehensive about appearing before other forums, it is not exactly the Argentine foreign minister’s place to say that this is a matter for the UN Security Council. Do you not agree?
[A] I agree with you. The fact is that the Argentine foreign minister changed his mind. Argentina –
[Lombardi – interrupting] Because of the talks you just mentioned?
[A] No, no, no. Although I would like to take credit for that, I cannot. The fact is that I have carried out two or three very extensive meetings with Foreign Minister di Tella of Argentina, who was in Europe at the time. I also have held talks with foreign ministers, such as [Sergio] Abreu of Uruguay; [Antonio] Aranibar of Bolivia; [Jose Angel] Gurria of Mexico; [Rodrigo] Pardo of Colombia; [Miguel Angel] Burelli of Venezuela; and [Javier] Solana of Spain. All of these talks –
[Lombardi – interrupting] All of these talks you just mentioned – please, forgive my curiosity – were aimed at explaining the Peruvian position or came about as result of the concerns of those specific foreign ministries. How did you receive a call – [pauses] for example, how did talks between you and the Spanish foreign minister develop?
[A] In some cases they came about because of our initiative, based on our belief in the need to explain our position in a proper manner and to explain that we are supported by the law and by what is right. In other cases, the talks originated as a result of concerns expressed by the foreign ministers themselves. In the specific case of the Spanish foreign minister, we are friends and, therefore, he telephoned me and of course I have answered all of the calls I have been receiving. Moreover, these contacts have not simply remained at this level. I have seen that President Fujimori himself has been in constant contact with a number of presidents, not only with the presidents of the guarantor nations but also presidents from other nations, especially those from our region.
[Q] This is the kind of information the government releases, as opposed to the kind released by the media such as the report ” Panorama” broadcast tonight on the mood in Ecuador. Maybe we shall be able to witness which approach proved more fitting in a couple of weeks, when all of this comes to an end. The fact is that [Ecuadoran President Sixto] Duran Ballen is also establishing contacts and conducting visits. He left Quito immediately after returning from Venezuela and has visited the guarantor nations.
[A] He is reaffirming the role of the guarantor nations. At one time, those countries were simply friends. Now, however, they have become guarantor nations.
“The declaration issued today in Rio de Janeiro is very clear”
[Q] In other words, the friendly nations essentially became guarantor nations, and with this visit Duran Ballen reaffirms the significance of the guarantors’role. I had not looked at it from that perspective. Nevertheless, do you believe that his visit can be countered by a simple phone call?
[A] Well, sometimes when explanations fail, there are some decisions that can only be described as extreme; I would like to avoid the word desperate. Concerning this problem, there are no explanations and to get a better grasp one only has to read the document issued by the guarantor nations. The declaration issued today in Rio de Janeiro is very clear.
[Q] Yet the document abstains from condemning Ecuador, as we had expected – perhaps, as we in Peru had expected too optimistically.
[A] It is not their responsibility to condemn. It is not up to them to pass judgment, because they are not a court. They are there to encourage and assist the disputing parties to reach an agreement.
[Q] What are you referring to when you say the declaration is very clear?
[A] The declaration says that, in a climate of goodwill and based on proposals made by all sides, even by the Ecuadoran side, it is possible to complete a project that includes urgent measures to end the confrontation now taking place and to establish additional measures that will lead to a lasting solution. Peru was willing to sign this document. Ecuador, however, let more than 24 hours go by without providing a reply.
[Q] In military terms and not diplomatic terms, what was the essence of the document Peru was prepared to sign? Was it an agreement for a cease-fire and the redeploying of troops at points in each country?
[A] That is right.
[Q] And specific points in each country?
[A] Yes, points quite easy to locate through coordinates and this would have allowed our troops to redeploy in our territory and Ecuadoran troops to withdraw to areas we recognize as Ecuadoran territory.
[Q] Should the fact that Ecuador refused to sign the document without offering a counterproposal be construed as evidence of that country’s aggressive character?
[A] Without a doubt. You have said so yourself: a few days ago we were all able to watch an interview – I believe it was on US television – where it was virtually impossible for the president of our neighbouring country to prove or even insinuate that they were in the right. I would really not –
[Lombardi – interrupting] Mr Minister, we still have two more minutes remaining and I would like to offer them to you so that you may address the country. You are from the north, are you not? If I am not mistaken, you were brought up and educated in Talara?
[A] That is correct. I was born in Lima years ago but my parents lived in Talara for several years. I was brought up in Talara, and I went to primary school at the Centro Escolar de Talara. It was when I was about to enter high school that I came to Lima, because in those days there was no high school in Talara. Things have changed now.
“We are in the right and the treaties support this claim; diplomacy ratifies this; and the international community recognizes it”
[Q] Foreign Minister, the population of Talara, Piura, Tumbes, the northern part of the country, Cajamarca, Amazonas and the border region, Peruvians living in Ecuador, and the entire nation would like to hear your message. I want to give you the last minutes of this lengthy interview in order that you can send your message, which I am certain will be one of optimism.
[A] Thank you very much. As a Peruvian, and in this specific case as a northerner, a resident of Talara, I would like to restate to the people that there is no reason for apprehension. We are entitled to feel optimistic. We are in the right and the treaties support this claim; diplomacy ratifies this; and the international community recognizes it. In addition, without any discussions whatsoever, we have the means to defend the nation’s sovereignty.
[Q] Thank you, Minister Goldenberg, for this interview. I hope you will grant us another interview when all of this has come to an end. I look forward to that end taking place very soon without having to shed any more Peruvian or Ecuadoran blood in an absurd conflict – a conflict which I believe we should all spare no efforts to bring to an end. Thank you again, Mr Minister.
[Goldenberg] Thank you.