Saturday, November 29, 2008

The War of the Pacific continues

Every so often, a news story pops up to remind us that the War of the Pacific, which officially concluded well over 100 years ago, simmers on. Last year it was Peru's effort to change the maritime border with Chile. Now we have a war of words:


In a video circulated by Chilean media this week, Peruvian army chief Edwin Donayre tells a social gathering: "The Chilean that enters doesn't leave or he leaves in a coffin; if there aren't enough coffins, they'll leave in plastic bags."

Foreign minister Jose Antonio Belaunde said Wednesday the government rejects Donayre's "verbal excesses."

It reminded of Mario Vargas Llosa's The Time of the Hero, as Peruvian military cadets were in a training exercise:

And the cadets of the first company would race forward like meteors, their fixed bayonets jabbing at the sky and their hearts filled with a tremendous rage as they trampled down the plants in the furrows--if only the plants were the heads of Chileans or Ecuadoreans, if only the blood would spurt out from under their boots, if only their enemies would die...

3 comments:

Randinho 12:07 PM  

Old wounds die hard. When I saw Evo Morales speak at Cooper Union a year and a half ago, there was a member of the Bolivian Navy in dress whites standing at attention behind him the entire time, obviously sending a message.

mcentellas 8:05 AM  

Old wounds die hard because they're useful. Almost every Bolivian regime has tried to use the sea issue to prop itself up. One that didn't (Goni's) didn't last long.

Randinho 10:13 PM  

Miguel,

I agree completely. No question that there is a political usage for territorial disputes and this, like Galtieri's use of the Malvinas is another example.

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