Agreements: The Peru-Ecuador
THEODORE S. WILKINSON
The outbreak of border conflict between Peru and Ecuador at the beginning of 1995 came as a surprise. Most Latin American countries had solved or shelved their post-colonial border disputes. The Peru-Ecuador dispute had simmered on for years, but there was no apparent reason for it to boil over at that particular time.
As guarantors of a 1942 framework peace agreement between the two Andean countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United States were called into action to stop the conflict and monitor a cease-fire. U.S. men and materiel would be needed. But how much to invest in peace? Decisions on how to respond to calls for the United States to step in had to consider factors unique to the Latin American context—the nature of the conflict, U.S. interests in the region, and U.S. obligations as a guarantor. These decisions also had to take into account the global context, where the proliferation of dangerous U.S. peacekeeping missions had become a politically charged issue. The arguments for participating fully had to be weighed against the risks of sending U.S. forces into harm’s way. Once the decision to go ahead with an observer mission had been made, U.S. policy officials still faced challenges in minimizing the risks and coordinating an exit strategy to end the mission.
Coping with these issues fell heavily on Assistant Secretary of State Alexander Watson in Washington and on U.S. special envoy Luigi Einaudi, who divided his time between interagency coordination in Washington and dealing with Peru, Ecuador, and the other guarantors in their capitals. This case study assesses competing U.S. interests that Watson, Einaudi, and other policy-level officials had to take into account in responding to the challenges of the Peru-Ecuador dispute. A