Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Old Andean tactics, and envy

Peru's Alan Garcia is fanning the flames of.... well, not war exactly. But the old populist is back to his old tricks. No longer an economic populist, he has resorted to the old andean trick of diverting attention from internal problems by blaming the neighbour. Bolivia has done it quite a bit, Argentina used to do it, and Peru has a long history of it.

As the for the accusations of spying, I remain agnostic. There is simply no way of knowing what the true story is. The adolescent defense -- 'everybody does it' -- while not entirely appropriate in school, is entirely appropriate when it comes to spying. Of course everyone does it. We just don't talk about it. And when caught, we come to some sort of civilized and negotiated agreement on what to do about it.

Causing a public ruckus is not about solving the spying problem. It is about solving Garcia's problems at home, or in this case, pressuring the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The peruvian president's unceremonious departure from APEC was about trying to make a tempest in a teapot, and trying to do it in as large a teapot as possible. All this, of course, in advance of the case currently before the ICJ. In other words, this is about pressuring international public opinion.

As a sign of how seriously Chile takes the case before the ICJ, it has just reassigned the very talented Alberto van Klaveren full time to the matter, and appointed the brilliant Angel Flisfisch to replace him.

Yet it is hard to take Garcia seriously when he says things like this. Chileans are only jealous of peruvians for their food and -- although they would never admit it -- for their pisco sour. Not for their politics nor for their economic model. And certainly not for their president.

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