Mediators fail to halt Andean war

Only two months after President Bill Clinton invoked "the spirit of Miami" at the Summit of the Americas here, Peru and Ecuador are locked in a conflict that threatens to derail economic integration in the region.

Coming on the heels of Mexico's financial crisis, the Peru-Ecuador dispute has further damaged Latin America's image, causing large-scale capital flight, deflecting tourism and throwing cold water on hopes of welding the Andean Pact countries on to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"First, we had the tequila effect," said one Latin American diplomat here, referring to the name given to the fall-out in financial markets around Latin America from Mexico's problems. "Now we have to add what you might call the condor factor," he added."In actual fact, the economies of both Peru and Ecuador remain stable. But foreign investors see the television images of tanks, troops and flag-waving."

Representatives of five Latin American nations and the US had closeted themselves in the pink, neo-classical Foreign Ministry building in Rio de Janeiro for five straight days in an attempt to silence the guns.

But, in a two-page statement issued at a final news conference late yesterday, the mediators said the talks had broken up without a truce because they were taking too long. A suggested plan included an observer mission, the separation of forces, and the creation of a demilitarised zone.

Both Peru and Ecuador had accepted the observer mission, the statement said.

Among those at the meeting were representatives of Ecuador and Peru, together with the deputy foreign ministers of the four guarantor nations of the so-called Rio protocol - the US, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

That 1942 protocol, which ended a Peru-Ecuador war, delineated the border, giving a victorious Peru almost halfEcuador's territory. Ecuador still disputes that line.

After an apparent ceasefire was reached on Friday night, Ecuador said Peruvian commandos, veterans of jungle warfare against Shining Path guerrillas, had attacked its border posts twice - on Saturday and yesterday. The Peruvian President, Alberto Fujimori, visiting the border yesterday, said his troops had surrounded the base of Tihuinza and were advancing on the post, which both countries say is in their territory. Ecuador said it had repelled the attack.

Peru's commandos were flown into the border zone over the past few days. Some troops looked distinctly out of place, their cast-off "Desert Storm" US uniforms standing out against the lush green jungle.

So far, casualties remain relatively low in 10 days of skirmishes. Ecuador admits eight men killed and two missing, while Peru admits losing 11 troops. Each country says it has killed dozens from the other side but there is no evidence to substantiate such claims.

However, the conflict is increasingly affecting civilians. One Peruvian was killed and another lost a leg at the weekend from mines placed by Ecuador. The closed border and roads, and a halt in shipping and flights between Lima and Quito, has blocked badly needed trade.

After a week in which nationalism was whipped up on both sides, with flag-waving women and children parading in the capitals, there were also groups in each country pressing for peace.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine