August 15, 2007
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook the coast of Peru earlier this evening, and many buildings in the capital city Lima were shaken hard. Tsunami warnings were issue all along the Pacific coast of South and Central America. Early reports indicate that 17 people are dead, but that number could rise dramatically. This is a developing story... See BBC and elcomercio.com.
This news caused us particular alarm, because our sobrina Cathy and cuñado Walter are visiting family in the Lima area right now. They felt the tremors, but weren't hurt, gracias a Dios.
After several months of relative calm, Peru and Chile are once again embroiled in a harsh dispute over maritime territorial rights. After the government of Peru published a report with a map of a proposed new line under which it would control more of the sea, Chile expressed its displeasure by withdrawing its ambassador from Lima, Cristian Barros. In response, Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde minimized the tension, saying that diplomatic communications are continuing. Under the agreement reached in the 1950s, the maritime frontier extends due west from the coastline, but Peru claims that it was not a permanent accord. See CNN.com. President Alan Garcia rejected suggestions that he is using the conflict for domestic political purposes. Peru plans to take this issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Details about the recent negotiations were published (in Spanish) by La Republica.
This is not really a new initiative by Peru. The issue of claiming waters rich in fish and seafood began in the 1950s, and reached a climax in 1969, when Peru began to seize U.S. fishing boats. This led to a diplomatic confrontation with the United States, and Peru eventually prevailed to a large extent. To this day, the 200-mile claim is widely respected.