Peru’s Declares Unilateral Cease-Fire in Border War
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Peru and Ecuador have each declared victory in their border fight and say they’ll stop shooting at each other.
Peru announced a unilateral cease-fire to take effect at noon today. It claimed it expelled Ecuadorean troops from the last of three outposts in the disputed jungle border area.
Ecuador, however, insisted its forces retained control of the three bases, but welcomed the cease-fire.
``Ecuadorean armed forces will not fire their arms if they are not attacked,″ said Carlos Larreategui, a government spokesman.
Tentative cease-fires have been announced twice before, but have failed to stop the fighting that began Jan. 26. Ecuador announced Jan. 31 that it had accepted a cease-fire proposal by peace negotiators in Brazil but Peru later rejected it.
Three days later, Brazil’s foreign minister announced that the Andean nations had agreed to a cease-fire, but the two sides couldn’t work out the details.
The latest cease-fire, however, marked the first time both governments said they would stop fighting over the unmarked 48-mile section of jungle border 590 miles north of Lima and 220 miles south of Quito, the Ecuadorean capital.
In a televised address in Peru, President Alberto Fujimori announced that his troops had captured the base of Tiwintza at the headwaters of the Cenapa River.
He said the base was the last of three Ecuadorean outposts in the disputed region of the Cordillera del Condor mountains.
``All Peru should know that at this moment ... Ecuadorean troops have been expelled from our territory,″ Fujimori said.
But Larreategui, the Ecuadorean spokesman, invited journalists and the Red Cross to visit Tiwintza, Base Sur and Cueva de los Tayos to see for themselves that they remain in Ecuadorean hands.
The three bases are in remote, jungle-cloaked mountains and can be reached only by military helicopter.
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry said it would invite observers to verify the cease-fire.
It also said it was confident that Chile, Brazil, Argentina and the United States could find a permanent solution to the conflict.
The four nations are guarantors of a 1942 treaty that ended a war in which Ecuador lost about half its Amazon territory to Peru. Ecuador later renounced the treaty, before the last section of the border was marked.
Peace talks resumed in Brasilia, Brazil on Monday.
Peru says 38 Peruvian soldiers have died in the fighting and 60 have been wounded. Ecuador admits to 10 soldiers killed and 37 wounded.
Ecuador’s military said fighting continued Monday, including mortar and artillery fire from both sides.