19 March 2009

Peru Seeks UN Ruling on Chile Maritime Dispute, Garcia Says

By Nathan Gill
March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Peru presented the United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague today with its claim to some of the world’s richest fishing grounds now held by Chile, Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde said.
    
Garcia Belaunde said he’s confident the court will agree to hear the case, which Peru initiated about a year ago. President Alan Garcia is seeking economic rights to an area of 50,000 kilometers (19,305 square miles). It includes some of the most productive fishing grounds on South America’s Pacific coast, according to Peru’s Fisheries Society.
    
“The Chileans have to accept that it is the court that decides this,” Garcia Belaunde said in an interview by phone from Lima yesterday.
    
Chile took control of the territory in 1881 after its Navy occupied Lima during what is known as the Pacific War, according to Eduardo Araya, director of the history institute in Chile’s Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso. It claims the border was established by treaties in 1952 and 1954 that also define Peru’s border with Ecuador.
    
The lawsuit could strain relations between the two South American countries. Chile has invested more than $6 billion in Peru’s energy, transport and retail industries over the past decade, according to Chile’s Foreign Ministry.
    
“Our idea of submitting this to international jurisdiction is to avoid the issue affecting our economic relations,” Garcia Belaunde said.