Peruvian President Alan Garcia cut short his trip to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Singapore, returning to Lima this morning to deal with a brewing spying case. Mr. Garcia abruptly announced his return—which comes a day earlier than had been scheduled—in order to publicly address an alleged incident of Chilean espionage involving an officer from the Peruvian Air Force. This newest diplomatic spat between the two countries had already provoked the cancellation of a meeting yesterday between President Garcia and his Chilean counterpart, Michelle Bachelet.
The spying accusations follow the arrest on October 30 of Peruvian Air Force official Victor Ariza Mendoza, who is accused of passing secret documents detailing Peru’s projected future military acquisitions to Chilean intelligence officers in exchange for money. Peru has brought charges of treason against Mr. Ariza and indicated that it plans to bring charges against two Chilean officials as well.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has responded to Peru’s allegations by denying any accusation of espionage and warning Peru’s government from jumping to conclusions. According to a Chilean presidential spokeswoman, “When there are accusations of this type, governments must exercise caution…We want to be clear: Chile does not spy.”