Chile's President Sebstián Piñera filed an official complaint Feb. 12 laying claim to 3.7 hectares (nine acres) of desert on the border with Peru—re-opening the border conflict between the two nations after a January ruling at The Hague had resolved a long-standing dispute on the maritime boundary. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Chile could maintain its sovereignty of fishing waters near the coast but granted Peru control of deeper waters to the southwest. After the ruling, Peru's government released a map designating the contested land triangle as its own—which was immediately rejected by Santiago, citing a 1929 treaty. Piñera's formal assertion of sovereignty over the contested strip follows friction with Peru's President Ollanta Humala at Pacific Alliance summit in Colombia earlier in the week. Following the meeting, Piñera publicly broached withdrawing from the Pact of Bogotá, the regional treaty granting the ICJ jurisdiction in international disputes.
The police-besieged offices of the divided Aymara indigenous organization CONAMAQ in La Paz were turned over on Jan. 15 to leaders of the faction aligned with Bolivia's ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). The pro-MAS faction, led by Hilarión Mamani, marched on the two-story building in the city's Sopocachi district, which was surrounded by a double cordon: first, a phalanx of riot police, then a vigil by supporters of the independent "organic" faction. Mamani's group, some 300 strong, reportedly advanced on the vigil, sparking a brief fracas. "Organic" CONAMAQ said in a statement that Mamani rejected an offer of dialogue on the spot, and that two "organic" leaders, Félix Becerra and Cancio Rojas, were physically threatened. Mamani and his group were then allowed to pass into the building by police, who were supposedly under orders to secure it from either faction until the dispute is resolved. (Erbol, Página Siete, La Paz, Jan. 15)
The Dakar Rally Raid motor-race across the Andes has already claimed three lives since leaving Rosario, Argentina, on Jan. 4—a motorcylist and two "spectators" who were following the race in a vehicle. Progress was finally halted five days later when residents and municipal workers in the Argentine town of Juan Alberdi, Tucumán province, blocked the road to prevent passage. (Al Jazeera, Jan. 11; EFE, El Gráfico, Buenos Aires, Jan. 9) Meanwhile, the Chilean Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the motor-race brought by the College of Archaeologists of Chile, who site damage to ancient petroglyphs in a previous Dakar Rally through the country. The group's vice president Paola González, told France24: "In Chile, a national monuments law considers this a punishable crime. Nevertheless, the destruction with impunity of our national heritage continues."
Bolivia is mobilizing police to the route across the Altiplano and Uyuni salt flats to be taken by the upcoming Dakar Rally Raid cross-country motor-race following a pledge by Aymara protesters to blockade it with their bodies. Adherents of dissident Aymara organization CONAMAQ say they will block the international road rally to press their demands that National Police troops that have been surrounding their La Paz office stand down. CONAMAQ followers along the route through Potosí and Oruro departments are organizing their communities for action. "We say that Dakar will only benefit the city, and not the indigenous peoples," said CONAMAQ leader Rafael Quispe. "The leaders of the 16 suyus [indigenous regions] have resolved to block the passage of Dakar."
Peru's President Ollanta Humala on Dec. 9 announced the capture of the new commander of the remnant Sendero Luminoso column in the Upper Huallaga Valley—one of two remaining pockets of coca-producing jungle where the scattered Maoist guerilla movement is still keeping alive a local insurgency. The commander was named as Alexander Fabián Huamán AKA "Héctor"—said to have assumed leadership of the guerillas' "Huallaga Regional Committee" after the capture last year of "Comrade Artemio," the last "historic" Sendero leader (that is, dating back to the insurgency's heyday 20 years ago). Gen. Víctor Romero Fernández, commander of the National Police Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO), called the arrest a "hard blow" against the guerillas, and predicted that "Sendero Luminoso is disappearing in this zone." (InfoBAE, Andina, Dec. 9)
Followers of Bolivian Aymara organization CONAMAQ blocked the highway between La Paz and Oruro for four hours Dec. 19, demanding that their office in La Paz be returned to them—and not be turned over to rivals within the organization that they say are being manipulated by the ruling party. The dispute began nine days earlier, when CONAMAQ's national gathering in La Paz, dubbed the Jach'a Tantachawi (Grand Assembly), broke down into a physical confrontation for control of the office. The following day, Dec. 11, National Police riot troops sealed off the office, barring access to the dissident faction that had been in control of it, "organic CONAMAQ." Adherents of this faction, led by Félix Becerra, began a round-the-clock vigil outside the office, camping on the sidewalk opposite a phalanx of police. On Dec. 13, a fight erupted when the vigilers were set upon by followers of the rival faction, led by Hilarión Mamani. That night, five "organic" leaders began a hunger strike to demand the office be restored to them. On Dec. 18, they lifted their fast, and decided to take direct action. One of the strikers, Walberto Barahona of Qhara Qhara Suyu, Chuquisaca department, said: "It is better to mobilize, because if we wait sitting we will die of hunger."
Agents of Peru's National Police force intercepted a small plane loaded with 300 kilos of cocaine paste in Oxapampa province, Pasco region, on Nov. 24, mortally wounding the pilot, a Bolivian national. Authorities said the agents, attached to the elite Tactical Anti-drug Operations Directorate (DIRANDRO), were staking out a clandestine airstrip they had discovered when the Bolivian-registered plane landed there. Three Peruvian crewmen were taken into custody, but the pilot was apparently shot in the stomach when he resisted. He was evacuated by helicopter to the nearest town, Ciudad Constitución, where he died in the hospital. The cocaine paste is believed to have been locally produced, and bound for Bolivia.
A group of Bolivian activists, led by human rights campaigner Olga Flores, disrupted the proceedings at the Central Bank auditorium in La Paz Dec. 10, where official commemorations were underway for International Human Rights Day. Protesters shouted out demands that Sacha Llorenti step down as Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, accusing him of having ordered repression of indigenous protesters at the town of Chaparina when he was interior minister in September 2011. The protesters at Chaparina were holding a cross-country march in defense of the TIPNIS, a national park and indigenous reserve that the government of President Evo Morales sought to build a highway through. "This act is a farse," Flores said at the ceremony. "In Bolivia, human rights are not respected." Teresa Zubieta, president of La Paz section of the official Permanent Assembly of Human Rigths, who had been presiding at the event, responded by accusing Flores of being in league with the Movimiento Sin Miedo, a right-wing opposition group. (Erbol, Eju!, Dec. 11; ANF, Dec. 10)