Reinvigorating Peru’s role in Antarctic geopolitics96X.2015.1030164

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Abstract: Peru has lagged in expanding its miniscule operations in the Antarctic. With neighbours such as Russia and China consistently appropriating greater resources towards its Antarctic bases, Peru can only lay claim to a seasonally operating base and naval vessel capable of annual expeditions to the frozen continent. The lack of investment in the region is crippling to the Andean nation, diminishing its presence and potential influence in the region. With the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 potentially up for revision in 2048, it is in Perus national interest to cement, promote and protect its fragile presence in Antarctica. As such, this essay will not only discuss Perus historical interactions with the Antarctic dating back to the 1970s, but it will also seek to highlight recent expeditions, including a visit by President Humala to Antarctica in 2013. It is the opinion of the authors that Peruvian initiatives in the Antarctic have been minimalist and insufficient to cement its role as relevant player in Antarctic geopolitics. Furthermore, this essay provides recommendations regarding what initiatives Lima can execute in the near future to not only increase its presence but also showcase it to the world. These suggestions include obtaining a second vessel, establishing a permanent base and promoting Peruvian scientific research regarding the Antarctic to the international academic community and even low-cost initiatives such as utilizing the Internet to promote Perus Antarctic history and contributions to the protection of this important region.

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of California, San Diego]On: 21 July 2015, At: 12:57Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG

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    Reinvigorating Perus role in AntarcticgeopoliticsWilder Alejandro Sancheza & Otto Raul Tielemans Jr.ba Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite1C, Washington, DC 20016, USAb The George Washington University, 1957 E. Street NW,Washington, DC 20052, USAPublished online: 17 Jun 2015.

    To cite this article: Wilder Alejandro Sanchez & Otto Raul Tielemans Jr. (2015)Reinvigorating Perus role in Antarctic geopolitics, The Polar Journal, 5:1, 101-112, DOI:10.1080/2154896X.2015.1030164

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2154896X.2015.1030164

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    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions
  • OPINION

    Reinvigorating Perus role in Antarctic geopolitics

    Wilder Alejandro Sancheza* and Otto Raul Tielemans Jr.b

    aCouncil on Hemispheric Affairs, 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1C, Washington, DC20016, USA; bThe George Washington University, 1957 E. Street NW, Washington, DC20052, USA

    Peru has lagged in expanding its miniscule operations in the Antarctic. Withneighbours such as Russia and China consistently appropriating greater resourcestowards its Antarctic bases, Peru can only lay claim to a seasonally operatingbase and naval vessel capable of annual expeditions to the frozen continent. Thelack of investment in the region is crippling to the Andean nation, diminishingits presence and potential influence in the region. With the Antarctic Treaty of1959 potentially up for revision in 2048, it is in Perus national interest tocement, promote and protect its fragile presence in Antarctica. As such, thisessay will not only discuss Perus historical interactions with the Antarctic datingback to the 1970s, but it will also seek to highlight recent expeditions, includinga visit by President Humala to Antarctica in 2013. It is the opinion of the authorsthat Peruvian initiatives in the Antarctic have been minimalist and insufficient tocement its role as relevant player in Antarctic geopolitics. Furthermore, thisessay provides recommendations regarding what initiatives Lima can execute inthe near future to not only increase its presence but also showcase it to theworld. These suggestions include obtaining a second vessel, establishing apermanent base and promoting Peruvian scientific research regarding the Antarc-tic to the international academic community and even low-cost initiatives suchas utilising the Internet to promote Perus Antarctic history and contributions tothe protection of this important region.

    Keyword: Peru; Antarctica; Foreign Policy; national interests; BIC Humboldt;Machu Picchu; ANTAR

    With the global community constantly seeking to unearth greater quantities of natu-ral resources, the Antarctic has established itself as one of the final frontiers forlucrative extraction ventures. Among the interested are countries such as Argentina,Australia, Chile and China each with their established research bases and intricatenetwork of Antarctic infrastructure (i.e. telecommunications systems, vessels, etc.).

    Most commonly overlooked, however, is the Andean nation of Peru. Defined byits constitution as an Antarctic nation, Peru has in recent decades maintained asmall but constant presence in the Antarctic, igniting a sense of pride and prestigefor the Peruvian Government, scientific community and military. Although thearmed forces are credited with spearheading Perus presence in the white continentin the 1970s, only a small portion of the Peruvian population is aware of its nationsventures in the Antarctic. After all, with little more than a seasonally operatingscientific base and an ageing naval vessel that conducts annual scientific expeditions,

    *Corresponding author. Email: wilder.a.sanchez@gmail.com

    2015 Taylor & Francis

    The Polar Journal, 2015Vol. 5, No. 1, 101112, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2154896X.2015.1030164

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    mailto:wilder.a.sanchez@gmail.comhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2154896X.2015.1030164
  • there is few ammunition on behalf of the Andean nation to conduct any type ofattention-grabbing expeditions or explorations.

    Nevertheless, Peru attempts to remain an active role in the region. And althoughits scientific experiments are ongoing, it is debatable to what extent the country isimpacting the global scientific community. Neither can it be said that the base,Machu Picchu, holds strategic value for the countrys commercial and nationalsecurity interests (although the base is necessary to demonstrate that the country isconducting substantial research activity in Antarctica in order to be a consultativeparty of the Antarctic Treaty System). The authors of this analysis argue that Perucurrently has no clear policy towards the white continent, and is only executingminimum initiatives necessary (i.e. scientific expeditions and a semi-permanentbase) to retain its relevance in the region. The accelerated melting of the poles isdriving global powers to look at the South Pole; however, Peru is failing to elevateits standing among its international counterparts. As such, with the Antarctic Treatyof 1959 to be reviewed in 2048 (50 years after it entered into force), it is in Perusnational interest to formulate a short- and a long-term policy leading up to 2048regarding its presence and objectives in the area. Otherwise, the Andean state is injeopardy of losing its little influence over the continents affairs. (Certainly, there isthe scenario where no party calls for a review in 2048, but the authors of this articlesupport the assumption that global geopolitics, and the battle for control overAntarctic resources, will be motives for a review of the Treaty.)

    Perus role in the Antarctic

    The first legal statement regarding Perus interest in the Antarctic can be found inthe countrys 1979 constitution, drafted a year prior to the countrys return to demo-cratic governance from over a decade of military rule (19681980).1 On 3 May1979, the National Assembly passed a declaration claiming Peru as being a nationlinked to the Antarctic due to its geographical position, as well as due to ecologicaland historical factors.2 A similar declaration was made and added to the countrysconstitution in 1993 by Perus national legislature. Additionally, the PeruvianGovernment has drafted a Poltica Nacional Antrtica (Antarctic National Policy)that was passed in 11 June 2002 (via the Decreto Supremo N 016-2002-RE). Thefact that the Peruvian Governments decision to highlight its connections with theAntarctic while the country was ruled by the military is interesting but should not beinterpreted as a defining factor. The Andean state has a strong history of dealingwith maritime issues, such as, for example, its fierce protection of its control over200 nautical miles as its exclusive economic zone, and, at the time, there was astrong momentum to get involved in Antarctic geopolitics in order to ensure that thefrozen continent remained a military-free zone and protected from changes thatcould impact the world, particularly neighbouring South America and Peru itself.

    As opposed to several other governments, however, Peru does not officially claimany territory within the Antarctic (though, following Brazils defrontacion theory,Peru could theoretically claim a sector of the Antarctic). As a matter of fact, it wasnot until 1981, after the country had returned to democratic governance, that theAndean nation became a signatory of the Antarctic Treaty. Years later, in 1989, Lima

    1Decreto Supremo No 014-2014-RE.2Constitucion Politica del Peru.

    102 W.A. Sanchez and O.R. Tielemans Jr.

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  • became a Consultative Party. According to the Treatys Article IX.2, a ConsultativeParty is entitled to participate in Consultative Meetings during such times as itdemonstrates its interest in Antarctica by conducting substantial research activitythere, such as the establishment of a scientific station or the dispatch of a scientificexpedition. This shift in membership status occurred after the South American coun-try successfully carried out two expeditions to the Antarctic, and established its cur-rent scientific base. As a signatory and Consultative Party, Peru acquired a voice anda vote in the decision-making process regarding the [Antarctic] Treaty and theformulation of the judiciary regimen that rules it.3 (It is worth noting that the Antarc-tic Treaty System works on consensus decision-making, but the Peruvian Govern-ment is nevertheless pleased that it now has decision-making rights.) The PeruvianMinistry of Foreign Affairs adds that the state aims to protect the Antarctic as apeace zone and natural reserve [for scientific expeditions] which are important for theinternational scientific community and also a priority for Peru.4

    It is also worth recognising that the Peruvian Government has sought to legit-imise its role in the region not simply by becoming a more active member in theregion, but also by attempting to include the Antarctic as part of its bureaucraticaffairs. For example, the Peruvian Government has created a White Book amanual-type journal that discusses the Andean nations interest in the Antarctic.Chapter II of the White Book is titled Peru en el Mundo and has a briefdescription of Perus Antarctic history and facts about the Machu Picchu base. Asfor Peruvian initiatives in Antarctica, one lone sentence explains, in order to berecognized as a consulting member of the Antarctic Council, Peru carries out thefollowing activities.5 The White Book goes on to list the aforementioned scientificexpeditions and the non-permanent scientific base as the cornerstone of its Antarcticprojects.

    Argentina, the Humboldt and Machu Picchu

    Perus initial Antarctic presence in the Antarctic was made possible with the help ofits partner, Argentina. Seen as an act that highlights the hospitable diplomaticrelations between both Latin American governments (particularly during a timewhen both countries were ruled by military juntas). One of the first Peruvian mili-tary officer who travelled to Antarctica is the now retired Army Brigadier General(ret.) Jose Maria Herrera Rosas.6 In 1981, he was invited by the Argentine militaryto visit one of their bases. Having proved successful, a second military delegationmade up of three officers, including the aforementioned Herrera, returned to theAntarctic, with the continued help of the Argentine navy. In an interview with theauthors, Peruvian Army Colonel (ret.) Wilder Sanchez Gambini explained, it makessense for the armed forces to take point in travelling to the Antarctic as we had thebudget, training and willingness to be the first ones to go.7

    Years later, Peru finally achieved a prominent Antarctic presence, establishingthe scientific base Estacin Antartica Machu Picchu (named in honour of the famous

    3Decreto Supremo No 014-2014-RE. Politica Nacional Antartica. Point No. 8.4Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Soberania, Limites y Asuntos Antarticos.5Peru White Book, Chapter II, 54.6Zorrilla, Fue Recibida la Vigesima Expedicion ANTAR XX.7Sanchez Gambini, interview.

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  • Inca citadel) in 1989. In 2005, Peru published the aforementioned White Book,specifying that the bases living quarters are 210 square metres in diameter, provid-ing room for 28 staff members. The base is located on King George Island, and itcarries out scientific experiments relating to: human biology, oceanography, biology,terrestrial magnetism and geophysics.8

    Perus annual arrival on the continent occurs through the use of the Buque deInvestigacin Cientfica (BIC Scientific Research Vessel) Humboldt. The vesselwas built in 1978, by a Peruvian Navy shipyard with German assistance, and hasreportedly been updated twice, once in 1989 and then again between 2010 and2012. In its most recent renovation, the BIC Humboldt received a new engine andnavigation systems. Nevertheless, the vessel is rapidly approaching four decades ofage, and it would suit the government to consider an additional vessel, given thatany substantive damage to the vessel would terminate, at least temporarily, thecountrys transportation to the region. In March 2013, upon the return of the BICHumboldt from an Antarctic expedition, Peruvian Minister of Production, GladysTriveo, declared that the government was evaluating the possibility of having apermanent presence in the Antarctic. Nevertheless, Triveo explained that what wasneeded was an oceanographic vessel with the capability of withstanding tough polarclimates, which Peru currently did not possess.9 According to Rear Admiral CarlosTejada, commander of the Peruvian Navy, such a vessel would cost around $40million USD; a significant amount, even for a country like Peru that is currentlyenjoying a period of subst...