Territorial conflict has been a continuing problem in South America and is often related to the possession of natural resources that represent a considerable income to the countries in dispute. On January 27, 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) gave its verdict on a case brought before the court in 2008 by Peru, which asserted a territorial claim on approximately 38,000 sq km of the Pacific Ocean bordering with Chile. The court ruled in Peru’s favour, in a judgment that was widely regarded as fair.
This is not the first confrontation between Peru and Chile. “Guerra del Pacifico” War of the Pacific (1879-1883) was a well-known conflict between both countries and resulted in the annexation of valuable disputed territory on the Pacific coast. It grew out of a dispute between Chile, Peru and Bolivia over control of a part of the Atacama Desert located between 23rd to 26th parallels of the South American Pacific coast, known for an abundance of mineral resources, particularly sodium nitrate.
After years of confrontation between the three countries, Chile and Peru signed the Treaty of Ancón relinquishing the Province of Tarapacá as well as the departments of Arica and Tacna to Chile in 1883. These territories would remain under Chilean control, however, the two nations were unable to agree on how or when to hold the plebiscite, and in 1929, both countries signedthe Treaty of Lima, in which Peru gained Tacna and Chile maintained control of Arica. Even though Peru regained Tacna, some fishing dominions were given to Chile thereby angering Peruvians financially dependent on artisanal fishing. Diplomatic relations between the two nations have consequently remained tense for many years.
Today both countries are once again disputing, this time in relation to claims on maritime territories. The issue was brought to the fore in 2008 when Peru filed the claim at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that marine boundaries had never been formally agreed upon by the two countries and needed objective international approval. In its defense, Chile posits that the line had been defined in agreements signed in 1952 and 1954, which Peru argued were strictly fishing accords.
After 5 years of tension, the court has finally ordered that the common marine border be redrawn to follow the current border for 80 miles from the coast but then will veer southwest for 120 miles, giving Peru the disputed “external triangle.” The current border runs due west from the coast for a full 200 miles, a demarcation that Chile has enforced since it won the Pacific War with Peru and Bolivia.
In a statement issued after the verdict was announced, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said “Peru is pleased with the outcome” of the court’s decision, and would “take the required actions and measures immediately for its prompt implementation.” The Peruvian government also said that the decision applied to nearly 19,000 square miles of offshore territory, or more than half of the 37,000 square miles it originally sought. Peru’s fishing industry estimates that the disputed zone has an annual catch of 565m Peruvian nuevo soles ($200m; £121m), particularly of anchovies which are used to make fishmeal. Peru will also gain access to some extra swordfish, tuna and giant squid.
Peru’s victory will not only significantly increase income in its fishing industry, but will also go a long way in restoring nationalism after a humiliating defeat to Chile in the 19th Century.
Alternatively, Michelle Bachelet, who will assume the Chilean presidency in March, stressed that even though Chile had lost none of its territorial waters (which extend for 12 nautical miles from the coast), the ruling is a “painful loss” considering the importance of this external triangle. As a condition for implementing the agreement representatives from the government of Chile have also suggested that Peru sign an International Convention on the Law of the Sea and accept the line through Hito 1 as its land border (losing 350 meters of beach); an agreement Peru remains reluctant to address, hoping instead for swift implementation of the ICJ’s verdict.
Andrea was born in Bogota, Colombia, and immigrated to Canada in 2006. She graduated in June 2012 from York University with a Bilingual BA in International Studies. After finishing her BA, she moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where she had the opportunity to do an internship with the World Health Organization (WHO). She is pursuing a Double Master in Public Policy and Human Development at the University of Maastricht, Holland. This article was re-published by permission and appeared in original form at The Atlantic Council of Canada.
Alleged U.S. Navy Involvement in the 1973 Chile Coup
An old mystery has come back into the limelight following the recent revelation that a retired U.S. Navy officer, accused of being complicit in the murder of two U.S. citizens in the immediate aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile, had died in Chile months ago, ironically at the same time as Chilean authorities were seeking his extradition from the U.S.
Davis had long been accused of being involved in the execution of Americans Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi by the forces of Pinochet’s junta. The story of Horman’s death and the quest of his wife and father for justice was chronicled first in a book by Thomas Hauser and the 1982 film Missing, directed by Greek filmaker Costa-Gavras and starring Jack Lemmon. The film implies that Horman and Teruggi had stumbled onto a substantial U.S. military presence in Chile on the eve of and during the revolt, with a fictional portrayal of a Davis-like character as the main American who stood by while they were killed by Chilean authorities, presumably because they knew too much about U.S. involvement in the coup.
Horman’s wife claims that during a ride that Davis had given to Horman in the days after the coup, Davis determined Horman possessed information that “would have risked derailing the recognition of Chile’s junta by the US government,” transforming him “from an American citizen who was entitled to protection, to a vulnerable and disposable threat to powerful forces.”
The Chilean judge seeking Davis’ extradition claimed that Horman had been identified as a “subversive” by “U.S. agents,” directly leading to his execution. John Dinges, whose book The Condor Years detailed how Chile organized South American-wide repression in the 1970s, argues that it was likely that the U.S. did not just “tacitly tolerate” Horman’s killing, but rather that Ray Davis “produced the information that led to his death and when Chileans consulted about it, he decided not to oppose it.” Davis’ supporters and family members have claimed instead that he was simply “a liaison between the U.S. and Chilean militaries” who had nothing to hide.
The National Security Archive has collected several declassified documents related to the Horman/Teruggi murders. In possibly the most damning piece of correspondence, State Department officials in 1976 admitted that there was “some circumstantial evidence to suggest” that
“U.S. intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman’s death. At best, it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the GOC. At worst, U.S. intelligence was aware the GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and U.S. officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of GOC paranoia.”
Perhaps the most bizarre twist to this story is that while authorities in Chile were attempting to bring Davis back there in order to face trial after his 2011 indictment, he was apparently “right under their noses all along, living in a nursing home in an upscale part of the Chilean capital.” The U.S. embassy there claims that they “were unaware that Mr. Davis was living in Santiago until early this past May, when they were informed of his death a few days before.” No press reports about Davis’ death so far have identified why he was living in Chile while simultaneously trying to avoid trial there. Horman’s wife is asking for proof of Davis’ death, not yet convinced that the Ray Davis who died in Chile earlier this year was the one she believes caused the death of her husband.
Lieutenant Commander Mark Munson is a Naval Intelligence officer currently serving on the OPNAV staff. He has previously served at Naval Special Warfare Group FOUR, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2). The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official viewpoints or policies of the Department of Defense or the US Government.
This is the ninth and final regular post in our Maritime Futures Project. For more information on the contributors, click here. Note: The opinions and views expressed in these posts are those of the authors alone and are presented in their personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of their parent institution U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, any other agency, or any other foreign government.
LT Drew Hamblen, USN: Navy’s experiments with biofuels will fizzle out as an abundance of natural gas and crude oil prices it out of the market.
Felix Seidler, seidlers-sicherheitspolitik.net, Germany:
The international maritime security debate is dominated by U.S. future capabilities, European decline, and the Asian arms race – in particular China. Yet beyond that Brazil will be an interesting player. The country seems to pursue an ambitious fleet-building agenda. Moreover, Brazil trained China’s carrier pilots. With a mid- to long-term perspective, a Brazilian blue-water navy might go on expeditionary tours – not to win wars per se, but to take part in international operations or underline Brazil’s new geopolitical status. Why shouldn’t Brazilian and Chinese carriers visit each other’s countries to deepen political ties between both governments?
Bryan McGrath, Director, Delex Consulting, Studies and Analysis: Most of my predictions will be wrong.
Sebastian Bruns, Fellow, Institute for Security, University of Kiel, Germany: “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” – Attributed to Benazir Bhutto
CDR Chuck Hill, USCG (Ret.): In the most likely conflicts, large numbers of vessels will be needed to perform blockade and marine policing to prevent use of the use of the seas for transport of weapons, supplies, and personnel. We will never have “enough.” The U.S. Coast Guard will be needed to supply some of them.
Biometrics, the ability to positively identify individuals, is already in use in counter-piracy operations and may become important in tracking down terrorists and agents in unconventional asymmetric conflicts.
States led by China will attempt to reinterpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to apply the restrictions and requirements of Innocent Passage to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as the Territorial Sea. Most important is Article 58 Section 3 of UNCLOS: “In exercising their rights and performing their duties under this Convention in the EEZ, States shall have due regard to the rights and duties of the coastal State and shall comply with the laws and regulations adopted by the coastal State in accordance with the provisions of this Convention and other rules of international law in so far as they are not incompatible with this Part.” China will interpret this to mean that anything other than expeditious transit including “spying,” “hovering,” flight ops, and submerged operations might be considered illegal.
LCDR Mark Munson, USN:
The notion of an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is not new (the formal definition of it extending out 200 nautical miles dates to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), but it seems to increasingly be at the heart of the various maritime disputes. China’s differences with its neighbors in the South and East China Seas revolve around the desire to secure control of underwater resources by maximizing its EEZ. In addition, China has advocated a state’s right to control or regulate the military activities of other states occurring in its EEZ. If accepted by the rest of the world (which most countries currently do not), such a notion would significantly impact the ability of states like the U.S. to operate forward at sea like it traditionally has. In addition, it is the realization of the negative impacts of a state’s inability to enforce activity in its EEZ (such as piracy in Somalia, maritime banditry and oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea) that has led many states to realize that capable maritime security forces are important, although they may not be able to afford them.
YN2(SW) Michael George, USN: The U.S. Navy is a vital force in our nation’s defense and will continue to be vital to providing secure waterways around the world. But the fact that it is a national navy and not an international one will cause leaders in other countries to make greater efforts to become more self-reliant.
LT Jake Bebber, USN: Few in the U.S. want war with China, and few in China want war with the U.S. That being said, the wisdom of the ancients suggests that we are on a collision course. 2,500 years ago, Thucydides wrote “The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable.” Fear, power and interest, often involving third parties (see Corcyra in 440 B.C. or Japan today), drive nations to war, and human behavior remains largely unchanged over the last 5,000 years of recorded history, despite our fallacious belief in “progress.” War will come when it is most inconvenient, unexpected, dangerous, and costly – not when we are prepared.
LT Alan Tweedie, USNR: DDG 1000 will cost even more than we expect and none of the three we are building will ever see 20 years of service life. Neither this ship nor anything else like it will be a part of our Navy’s future.
LT Scott Cheney-Peters, USNR: These are a little further out in left field, and focus a bit more on geopolitics than the predictions made to earlier questions, so I fully expect them to make me look a bit ridiculous in the years ahead:
While much has been written about Brazil’s burgeoning economic power – slowing of late – and the nation’s drive to reinvigorate its naval capabilities, it will be Columbia and Mexico that surprise the Western Hemisphere’s observers with their growing naval clout. The focus of these nations’ fleets will also shift from the traditional hemispheric concerns to protecting trade ties to Africa and Asia. This is of course predicated on both countries’ ability to keep a lid on domestic discontent and violence while extending their economic booms. Other South American armadas – such as those of Peru, Uruguay, and Chile – will endeavor to maintain their small but professional capabilities, and undertake a similar drive (underway in many cases) to boost ties across the Pacific and Atlantic.
The leaders of both Cuba and Venezuela have not long to live, yet neither change at the top will mean much in terms of naval policy. Both nations may seek to defrost relations with the U.S. and strengthen integration in cooperative regional maritime efforts – although again, little change from now.
The professionalization of Africa’s maritime forces will continue apace in those nations enjoying peaceful transitions of government. Cooperative regional efforts will combat the threats of piracy, maritime robberies, and drug-running – but the dangers will continue at modest levels and readily flourish in any coastal power vacuum. Counter-drug ops will prove the hardest to due to pervasive levels of corruption in states such as Guinea-Bissau.
The Persian/Arabian Gulf will remain a tinderbox – not due to a looming confrontation with Iran, but because the Arab Spring has yet to fully play out on (or off the coast of) the Arabian Peninsula. I don’t presume to know the outcome or timeline, but escalating repression of the Shia majority in Bahrain could lead to untenable situation for the U.S. Fifth Fleet HQ, and/or a change of government.
Lastly, in Asia, the oft-overlooked Indonesia has the potential to develop into a naval power in its own right. The nation’s leadership has aspirations of becoming a key player in South Asia, and it will likely attempt to play the role of a non-aligned honest broker in any regional stand-off. If you’re looking for good coverage of Indonesia (and its ties with Australia), check out the sites Security Scholar and ASPI.
Of course, we could always just end up with this:
Simon Williams, U.K.: Something this writer believes policy makers and the military should be mindful of in the coming decades will be the increasing significance of the maritime realm in dictating the machinations and dynamic of international relations. Not only are burgeoning economic powers in the Far East developing credible naval forces to guard their interests, but, having suffered a bloody nose in a protracted counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan, Britain and the United States will find it difficult to conjure up the public support for any ground operations in the near future.
LCDR Joe Baggett, USN: No predictions – Just observations: – In my opinion, the United States and its partners find themselves competing for global influence in an era in which they are unlikely to be fully at war or fully at peace. – The security, prosperity, and vital interests of the United States are increasingly coupled to those of other nations. – We must be as equally committed to preventing wars as we are to winning them. – As ADM Locklear once said “I value surface forces that are: 1) Sufficient in number: you have to be there in order to make a difference 2) Capable, both offensively and defensively: our lethality must be compelling, and our presence re-assuring to our allies 3) Ready, both in proficiency to the full range of potential missions and in proximity to where they’re needed 4) Relevant: the right mix of the above factors to achieve the broad missions sets assigned.”