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La política exterior peruana

Ronald Bruce St. John

Después de casi tres décadas de inestabilidad política, incertidumbre
económica y diplomacia activista, el presidente
Alberto Fujimori a principios de los años noventa devolvió
al Perú la estabilidad económica y política. Para restaurar la
posición internacional del país, también reorientó la política
exterior, modificando su dirección, contenido y tono. En el
nuevo milenio, los sucesivos gobiernos peruanos, desde Alejandro
Toledo hasta Ollanta Humala, se han basado en las
iniciativas introducidas por Fujimori, centradas en las preocupaciones
tradicionales, como la soberanía, la integridad
territorial, la independencia económica, el regionalismo y la
solidaridad continental. La continuidad y la coherencia de
la política exterior peruana después del año 2000 también
evidenciaron un grado de pragmatismo en un mundo cada
vez más complejo que pedía nuevas soluciones a viejos problemas.

During the first term of President Fernando Belaúnde Terry
(1963-1968), Peruvian foreign policy began to move in new
directions, addressing unfamiliar issues, adopting fresh approaches,
and consummating new bilateral and multilateral
relationships. Successive Peruvian governments diversified
arms transfers, broadened trade links, advocated a radical reorientation
of the inter-American system, and pushed for
enhanced regional economic cooperation. In a sustained period
of innovation, each administration naturally emphasized
different challenges and opportunities; however, the central
direction of Peruvian foreign policy after 1963 reflected a
continuity that transcended individual interests and goals.
In pursuit of heightened Peruvian sovereignty, successive
governments from Belaúnde to Fujimori sought to reduce
external pressures and imposed conditions, especially from
the United States. In the process, the intractable economic
problems experienced by the Peruvian government repeatedly
undermined key facets of Peruvian foreign policy. By
the end of the first term of Alan García Pérez (1985-1990),
Peru had defaulted on some $2 billion in loans from the
International Monetary Fund and other lending agencies,
making it one of the leading debtor nations in the world (St
John 1999b: 187-213).

Setting the stage, 1990-2000
Alberto Fujimori, a virtual unknown in Peruvian political
circles, won the 1990 presidential election by a commanding
majority. After his election, Peruvian pundits referred to
Fujimori’s campaign as a tsunami, a powerful image reflecting
the magnitude and velocity of his final electoral surge.
Understandably, the deplorable state of the Peruvian economy
was the first priority of the Fujimori government. In
an effort to improve relations with the international financial
community, President-elect Fujimori traveled to Japan and
the United States before his inauguration, and less than two
weeks after he took office, he announced the initial phase of
a stern economic stabilization program. Dubbed Fujishock, it
was based largely on orthodox economic policies he had denounced
during the campaign (Boloña 1996; Iguíñez 1998).

Where the activist diplomacy of the García administration
left little room for an improvement in bilateral relations
with the United States, President Fujimori recognized that
US government support was essential to the success of any
attempt to restore the international standing of Peru. Consequently,
he focused initially on the issues of drug production
and drug trafficking, the policy areas of greatest interest
to Washington. With Peruvians more concerned with combating
guerrilla-terrorist movements, Fujimori’s approach
highlighted the early pragmatism of his government (Luna
1999). Expected to agree to a substantial infusion of US
military assistance to combat the drug problem, the Fujimori
administration later surprised most observers when it
argued that the drug problem could not be solved by military
means alone, proposing an alternative approach which
went beyond simple security concerns to address economic issues. The Peruvian approach, which became the basis for
a formal umbrella agreement concluded between Peru and
the United States in 1991, responded more fully to Peruvian
concerns and priorities than the US one and thus represented
an early diplomatic victory for the Fujimori government.
In May 1995, Peru and the United States concluded a new
agreement to promote alternative development and economic
growth in the coca-growing zones, and one year later,
they renewed their joint commitment to fight drug trafficking
(McClintock and Vallas 2003: 117-118, 122-124, 128-
129; St John 1999b: 206, 213).

In April 1992, President Fujimori executed an autogolpe, suspending
the 1979 constitution, padlocking the congress, and
dismantling the judiciary. Five months later, the Dirección
Nacional contra el Terrorismo captured Abimael Guzmán,
the founder of Sendero Luminoso, crippling a guerrillaterrorist
movement that had challenged the existence of
the state for more than a decade. As these events unfolded,
more and more Peruvians approved of Fujimori’s policies,
especially his stabilization of the economy and his success in
defeating guerrilla-terrorists; however, his mounting popularity
did not silence criticism of alleged human rights abuses.
The George H. W. Bush administration (1989-1993) condemned
the autogolpe but refused to support broad economic
sanctions on the grounds such action would jeopardize
the war against terrorism in Peru (Ramacciotti and Méndez
2012: 105-106, 108-110; Palmer 1998: 26-27). In a 10 July
1992 cable to Secretary of State James A. Baker, the US Ambassador
to Peru, Anthony C. E. Quainton, concluded just
three months after the autogolpe that “Peru is heading in a
direction which is consistent with our long-term interests”
(Quiroz 2008: quote 372).

As economic and political stability increased, the Fujimori
government reinserted Peru into the international financial
community and began to address issues of debt and development.
This process was facilitated by the success of the
economic reforms put in place after 1990. As stabilization
policies ended a period of hyperinflation, economic growth
increased, an ambitious privatization program picked up
steam, exports increased, and the rate of foreign investment
responded favorably to privatization and new investment
laws. Efforts towards economic normalization culminated in
a Paris Club agreement in July 1996 in which Peru restructured
most of the US$ 9.25 billion owed to official creditors
(Iguíñez 1998).

The formal movement toward enhanced regional cooperation
began during the first Belaúnde administration with
the 1966 Declaration of Bogotá committing Chile, Colombia,
Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela to the negotiation of
an economic integration agreement. The 1969 Cartagena
Agreement, signed by Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador,
Peru, and later Venezuela, established the Andean Common
Market or Andean Group (Ffrench-Davis 1978: 34-8). The
administration of Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968-1975) enthusiastically
supported the Cartagena Agreement, but the support
of subsequent Peruvian governments wavered. The second
Belaúnde administration (1980-1985) reaffirmed Peru’s
commitment to regional cooperation, but its approach to
national development goals slowed progress toward Andean
integration (Avery 1983: 156-65). In turn, the first García
administration remained committed to the ideal of Latin
American unity but demonstrated little interest in pursuing
the strong initiatives necessary to resolve the growing crises
faced by the Andean Group (St John 1999b: 201, 204).

In contrast, President Fujimori sought from the start to accelerate
the pace of regional integration. He presided over
the opening meeting of the Andean Parliament when it convened
in Lima in February 1991, and in May 1991, he joined
the other Andean presidents for a two-day summit in Caracas.
During the meeting, the participants agreed to establish
a free trade zone by January 1992 and a common market by
1995. They also called for talks with the US government to
discuss trade, investment, environmental, and drug trafficking
issues, and they urged the US Congress to pass a bill
under discussion which would encourage Andean agricultural
workers to replace coca production with farm products
exportable to the United States under preferential terms (St
John 1996: 131-132). In early December 1991, the Andean
presidents, under pressure from the Fujimori government
to move forward with Andean integration, agreed in the
Barahona Act to establish a free trade zone and a customs
union in 1992. Unfortunately, the fallout from the autogolpe
dealt a severe blow to ongoing efforts at regional cooperation
and development (Seoane Flores 2000: 295-296). In August
1992, Peru announced its withdrawal from active participation
in the Andean Group for a two-year period, and
a few weeks later, Peru opposed a common external tariff
during a meeting in Quito (St John 1999b: 218-220).

In January 1992, Peru concluded a 50-year renewable agreement
with Bolivia in which Peru agreed to provide Bolivia
with a duty-free port and an industrial park at the Peruvian
port of Ilo in return for similar facilities at Puerto Suárez on
the Paraguay River. Peru also ceded to Bolivia a tourist zone
for 99 years, together with five kilometers of Ilo coastline.
Bolivians immediately baptized the coastal strip “Boliviamar”
(Ergueta Ávila 2000: 93-104). Both Bolivia and Peru
hailed the pact as an historic step which would greatly benefit
regional economic development (St John 1994: 24).

In 1992, the Fujimori government also embarked upon a
new round of talks with Chile aimed at the full implementation
of the terms of the 1929 Tacna and Arica Treaty
and Additional Protocol (Tudela 1999). Following lengthy
negotiations, the foreign ministers of Peru and Chile signed
a package of documents on 13 November 1999 that
collectively executed the 1929 agreements, ending 70 years
of controversy (Novak 2000). Foreign Minister Fernando de
Trazegnies, an author and dedicated bibliophile, later expressed
his satisfaction that the settlement included the return to
Peru of some 200 books and documents that Chilean forces
had looted during the War of the Pacific (Trazegnies 1999).
In mid-1998, Peru also reached a free trade agreement with
Chile that immediately removed tariffs on some 2,500 products
with duties on other products to be phased out over a
three to 18 year period (St John 1999b: 221).

As the 1990s progressed, the Fujimori government was increasingly
active in the Asia-Pacific region. As early as 1872,
the Manuel Pardo administration (1872-1876) had dispatched
a diplomatic mission to China and Japan, and while
these early efforts to expand commercial and other ties met
with limited success, President Fujimori later built on his Japanese
heritage to promote investment and trade with the
region, including China, South Korea, and Japan (Gardiner
1975: 1-21, 42-60, 94-110, 127-55; Morimoto 1999: 213-25).
In 1991, Peru became a member of the Pacific Economic
Cooperation Council (PECC) and the Pacific Basin Economic
Council (PBEC), and in 1998, it joined the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum (González Vigil
2012: 209-210). When the Movimiento Revolucionario Tú-
pac Amaru (MRTA) guerrilla-terrorist movement attacked
the Japanese ambassador’s residence in mid-December 1996,
seizing 72 high-profile hostages, Fujimori authorized a successful
commando raid in which all the guerrillas were killed.
Widely popular in Japan, President Fujimori made his tenth
visit to Japan in 1999 to mark the 100th anniversary of the
first wave of Japanese emigration to Peru (McClintock and
Vallas 2003: 38, 74-75).

In January 1995, the armed forces of Ecuador and Peru clashed
in the most serious round of fighting since 1941. After
a sustained diplomatic effort, the four guarantors of the
1942 Rio Protocol (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United
States) in October 1998 announced a Global and Definitive
Peace Agreement, generally known as the Brasilia Accords
(Tudela 1999). The agreement delimited the boundary line
in the unmarked sector on the summit of the Cordillera del
Cóndor and provided for the creation of two national parks
in the frontier zone under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of
the respective states. Ecuador also received one square kilometer
of ground in Peru on the point designated as Tiwinza,
the site of heavy fighting in 1995, but this transfer of land
did not entail any “consequences as to sovereignty” with
Ecuador enjoying real title except the right to transfer the
property (St John 1999a: 30-49; Bákula 2002: II, 1344-1367).

President Fujimori promised a period of socioeconomic
and political reform; instead, he presided over a decade
of authoritarian rule, marked by a level of corruption previously
unknown in Peru. Despite widespread improbity and
venality that trampled on human rights, compromised domestic
policies, and undermined state institutions, the Fujimori
administration enjoyed more success in advancing core
objectives of Peruvian foreign policy than any other government
in the second half of the twentieth century. President
Fujimori restructured the foreign debt on highly favorable
terms and restored Peru’s standing in the international financial
community, setting the stage for the pursuit of a more
autonomous national development policy. Diplomatic and
economic relations with important Asia-Pacific states expanded,
and by the end of the decade, bilateral relations with
the United States were the most positive in recent memory.
The final implementation of the Tacna and Arica Treaty
and Additional Protocol completed a process begun in 1929
when President Augusto B. Leguía (1908-1912, 1919-1930)
negotiated the agreements, and the successful resolution of
the Ecuador-Peru border dispute on terms highly favorable
to Peru achieved a goal of successive Peruvian governments
since independence.
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