Binational cabinet strengthens Chile-Peru ties

SANTIAGO – Evolving from enemies in war to adversaries at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to reach the level of binational cabinet meetings, shows that Chile and Peru have quite a history. By conducting these binational meetings the leaders of both countries, no doubt swayed by diplomat’s and entrepreneur’s advice, show that national interests don’t have to be defined in bellicose terms forever. Although not spelled out directly, this development spurs not only integration, but also alleviates Chile’s Bolivarian headache.

On Tuesday, the second Chile-Peru binational cabinet meeting ended in Santiago. According to Chile’s foreign affairs ministry, officials discussed topics such as culture and integration, defense, foreign trade, tourism and technology sharing, environmental protection, and border development and integration.

Presidents Sebastián Piñera and Martín Vizcarra authorized their foreign ministers to sign:

  1. a Memorandum of Understanding on protecting the southern right whale
  2. a joint declaration on the commemoration of the bicentennial of Peru’s independence
  3. an inter-institutional cooperation agreement to fight corruption
  4. an agreement on audiovisual co-productions

An eye to the future

Both presidents signed 14 agreements and 163 commitments in total. Chile’s foreign minister Roberto Ampuero said, “I am convinced that by working together we will continue to boost the broad bilateral agenda that unites us, [further] strengthening our strong bilateral ties with a future perspective. ”

Peruvian daily Gestión quoted Vizcarra as saying, “Not only have we talked and expressed our commitment to achieve a common goal in pursuit of the development of our peoples, but a development that is sustainable and with a vision toward the future.”

Inclusion here, exclusion there

After years of tense relations due to Pacific War history, when Chile occupied Lima, and a conflict over maritime territory that simmered ever since, the ICJ’s 2014 ruling on the matter seemed to have cut the Gordian knot.

Then-president Michelle Bachelet’s administration moved quickly to paper over the verdict which forced Chile to hand back about 7,700 square miles to Peru. Diplomats of both countries then began weaving together a common ground, which was solid enough for the first binational cabinet meeting to take place in July 2017.

This took away a potential player in the Bolivarian alliance and an ally to Evo Morales’ Bolivia, whose territorial claim in the Atacama Desert, seemed similar to Peru’s. But Lima never saw benefits in allying with Bolivia; Chile just had the better deal, despite the differences.

The second binational cabinet meeting reinforced this position. Peru’s choice is not only good news for Santiago, it’s bad news for the Bolivarian alliance.

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