Global Security Headlines

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Spy Case Latest Flap between Peru and Chile

The tit-for-tat existence that somehow constitutes bilateral relations between Peru and Chile hit a new low as Lima accused Santiago of spying earlier in the month as the Americaeconomia writes in : Caso de espionaje desata crisis entre Chile y Perú (´´Spy case unleashes crisis between Chile and Peru´´).

(pictured above: President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Alan Garcia of Peru)

The two South American neighbors confront a simmering maritime dispute (heated up in March over Peru´s petition before the UN to definitively resolve the matter) over fishing and sovereignty rights in the Pacific Ocean and a bi-lateral trade agreement now generating some doubts.

The  cheeky Salitre military exercises, led by Chile involving Argentina, Brazil, France and the US - but not Peru - is a recent irritant from October. The exercise included a hypothetical invasion of Chile (read Peru). Add historical humiliation at the hands of Santiago (War of Pacific naval defeat at Casma in 1839) and you have the perfect ingredients for mutual suspicions, lack of cross-border confidence, and a brimming arms race.

Enter the spy scandal.

Given Chile´s air superiority, Peru became infatuted with MiG 29 Fulcrums in the late 1990s, but bought them from Belarus on the cheap and Russia at first would not service them. Now, an expected and long-needed upgrade perhaps piqued interest by Chilean Air Force (FACh) intelligence as identifiied by the alleged perpetrator (non-commissioned officer Victor Ariza Mendoza) in fragments of his interrogation conveniently published in Lima´s national daily, El Comercio (original + translation):

{0>3 ¿Cree que sus contactos forman una red internacional dedicada al espionaje?<}0{>
3 ¿Cree que sus contactos forman una red internacional dedicada al espionaje? ¿Quienes la forman?
No lo puedo precisar pero lo que puedo interpretar es que son hombres de inteligencia de la Fuerza Aérea Chilena y como tal se dedican a la obtención de información en sus diversas modalidades de acuerdo a principios y doctrinas de inteligencia que son aplicables a todos los servicios de inteligencia de las FF.AA.

Question #3 - Do you believe your contacts were part of an international spy ring? Who are your contacts?
I cannot say that, but what I do know is that the men were from Chilean air force intelligence and operated like military intelligence.

The explosive confession about files on Peru´s MiG-29 SMT (fighter) and Matra Magic-2 air-to-air missiles supposedly passed to Santiago in meetings in Chile and later in Uruguay ignited the latest row.

In a strongly worded diplomatic note, Lima demanded a clear explanation and Santiago said it would ´´study´´ the dossier handed over by Peru regarding the matter.

While few observers expect an armed confrontation between Peru and Chile (mutual business interests perhaps usurp deep-seated political fusses?), the alleged spy scandal ratches up tensions between two neighbors who despite past problems have more to lose than to gain by letting the hot rhetoric overboil.
If you need research from open sources in Spanish, French, or Portuguese and presented in a stylish English language report or a translation of documents in said languages to English, please contact Professor Winn at by sending an email to for a prompt evaluation.

Buy your English-language texts today!

No comments: