Protecting Our Borders
By Dialogo July 01, 2011
Along the Pan-American highway, between Chile and Peru, travelers can
appreciate miles of diverse Atacama desert landscapes, including golden sand dunes,
valleys and mountains. Chileans often cross this border to visit Peru’s southernmost
coastal town of Tacna to enjoy local traditional dishes. Peruvians travel just 19
kilometers from their border to the Chilean city of Arica to take advantage of
duty-free shopping and a dynamic nightlife.
The flow of people, vehicles and merchandise are subjected to law enforcement
controls on both sides of the frontier at Santa Rosa-Chacalluta, the key transit
border between Tacna and Arica. As of December 2010, more than 4.5 million people
traveled through the area; the projected figure for 2011 is 4.8 million people,
according to José Miguel Durana, Arica’s governor, as reported by the Chilean
newspaper, El Morrocotudo.
Apart from the scenic landscapes and constant flow of citizens across
neighboring borders, drug smugglers have made the border a major transit route, a
problem that required a joint effort between Peru and Chile to fight
narcotraffickers and develop a new border accord.
Narcotraffickers’ transit of cocaine from Peru through Chile has established
the southernmost nation as one of the most frequently reported drug transit
countries, according to the 2009 U.N. World Drug Report. Peruvian narcotraffickers
use drug trafficking routes that exit the country via maritime or terrestrial paths.
The maritime routes depart primarily through Peruvian ports on the Pacific Ocean
coast, while the land routes filter the drugs through borders with Brazil, Bolivia
and Chile, according to narcotrafficking expert Jaime Antezana of the Institute of
International Studies at the Catholic university, Pontificia Universidad Católica
del Perú, in an interview with the Peruvian newspaper, La
Although Chile is neither a producer nor the main destination of this illicit
substance, the U.N. drug report notes that cocaine use in Chile has become more
prevalent. Chile has the second highest cocaine use per capita in South America,
behind Argentina, according to the report.
To combat the drug trafficking threat, Peru and chile signed a border control
agreement at the beginning of 2011. The agreement allows for an integrated border
control system that facilitates the legal passage of people and merchandise through
the border without duplicating efforts for government agencies. It also maintains
needed border requirements to deter crime and illegal activity.
“It allows for more efficient control and increases integration, something
that is desired by both countries,” said Paola Valenzuela, a representative of the
Border Unit of the Chilean Ministry of Interior, during an international workshop
aimed to explain the accord to delegates from Chilean and Peruvian border
As local authorities welcomed the agreement to combat their common threats
and benefit their border security, they agreed to work on a series of actions for
the agreement to succeed. “To achieve an effective agreement, we have to integrate
the systems in each of our countries … but concentrate on specific and solid points
that would allow us to advance,” said Javier Miranda, director of the Foreign
Affairs office in Tacna-Moquegua, Peru.
Border security and drug-related issues such as consumption and trafficking
encompass areas of common concern for both Peru and Chile. As such, Peruvian and
Chilean government leaders reaffirmed their strong bilateral relationship by signing
three anti-drug cooperation agreements at the beginning of 2011.
Chile and Peru developed a three-pronged approach to combat drugs in the
neighboring nations. From an interdiction perspective, police forces will be
supported by an information sharing agreement between Peru’s National Police and
Chile’s Investigative Police in the Fight Against the Illicit Trafficking of
Narcotics and Psychotropic Drugs. Additionally, a memorandum of understanding was
signed between the ministries of education from both countries to implement
anti-drug consumption policy. Expert exchanges will be held to discuss the
implementation of drug prevention programs and to strengthen expertise on the
subject. The last point, cooperation to support judicial matters, includes the
review of current laws and procedures that address drug consumption, as well as a
review of the extradition treaty to support anti-drug measures.
Sources: El Comercio, Andina news agency, Peruvian Ministry of Foreign
Relations, 2009 U.N. World Drug Report, http://chile-hoy.blogspot.com,
www.soychile.cl, www.eumed.net, InfoSurHoy.com