Weekly Review (25-31 October)

The two plus two meeting with the Defense and Foreign Relations Chilean ministers revived the maritime limits issue, a subject too sensible to be addressed during a meeting organized in order to strengthen trust between the two countries. On the other hand, the approval of a law that would control the destination of the funds received by NGOs from abroad has caused a commotion since it is considered unconstitutional.

During Alejandro Toledo’s administration, the affairs with the southern country didn’t pass through their best moments. The bilateral relation went through ups and downs, which ranged from the incident with the Lan video, to the origins of pisco and the chirimoya. Nevertheless, the presence of Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet at the last July 28 ceremonies represented an improvement. Apparently, during Alan Garcia’s administration, opportunities to strengthen the relations between the two countries won’t be missed, even if certain issues have to be left out –until the need for a smoke curtain?-, such as the maritime limits. At the Permanent Political Consulting and Coordination Committee between Peru and Chile meeting, known as the two plus two, the central issues are the homologation of the military expenses information, oriented towards a balance regarding the purchase of armament, and the creation of a joint military force to strengthen peace in the region.

However, the maritime limits issue was finally addressed by the Chilean Foreign Relations minister himself, Alejandro Foxley. He assured that, as a consequence of the negotiation process, Chile was willing to give certain gestures. The two plus two mechanism has restarted after being suspended for a year because of the Peruvian actions regarding the maritime dispute.

The law that seeks to regulate NGOs so that before beginning their work in the country they should be registered and inform about the final destination of all funds received from abroad, was approved in the first round of voting. The law comes from the previous Congress, but was observed by the Executive. Rolando Souza, from the Fujimorista Parliamentary Group, justified the law by assuring that its purpose is to ensure a greater transparency of what these NGOs are receiving and doing in our country.

The law’s critics consider it unconstitutional because it would contradict the second article of the Peruvian Constitution of 1993, which guarantees that one the fundamental rights is to associate and constitute foundations and diverse forms of juridical non-profit organizations, without previous authorization and according to the law. According to Federico Arnillas, from the Asociacion Nacional de Centros, the NGOs legislation states that in order to access international cooperation, the NGO must be registered at the Peruvian International Cooperation Agency. The other cases refer to private funds, so this law would have an effect on the right to establish contracts between private parties, affecting the Constitutional State and the juridical stability.

Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and other members of the cabinet have supported the controversial law. Del Castillo has compared the NGOs with political parties, creating and analogy between the treatments both organizations require. Ministers Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde and Allan Wagner have also expressed their support. The breach of this law could be sanctioned with the cancellation of the NGO’s registration.

This piece of legislation is being pushed in Congress by the APRA, Unidad Nacional and the Fujimorista Parliamentary Group. According to Enrique Bernales, of the Andean Jurists Commission, this law is being backed up by an agreement between the APRA and the Fujimorista Parliamentary Group, due to the performance of NGOs against the corruption of the Fujimori administration and their actions towards the recovery of democracy. Likewise, Luis Sirumbal, president of the Asociacion Nacional de Centros, assured that the real reason behind this law is that NGOs that defend human rights are uncomfortable for those in government, and that NGOs are examined by entities such as Essalud and the Labor Ministry.

Mariana Olcese

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