Bush, Toledo Vow Regional Cooperation
Fight on Terror, Drugs Pledged; Peruvian Stresses Need for Renewed Trade Pact
By Karen DeYoung and Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Staff Writers
LIMA, Peru, March 23 -- President Bush and President Alejandro Toledo
of Peru pledged a joint fight against terrorism and drug trafficking in
the hemisphere as
they met here amid a massive security operation following the explosion of a car bomb across the street from the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday.
But Toledo made clear that he is as concerned about the recent U.S.
failure to renew a decade-old Andean trade pact as he is about a resurgence
of the terrorism
that menaced this country in the 1980s early '90s.
"You are welcomed with open arms by a proud country," Toledo toasted
Bush at a dinner tonight. While Peru is committed to the campaigns against
and terrorism, Toledo said, its people also want markets for "our cotton, our coffee, our corn and other products. . . . We are a country that is not asking for aid. . . .
We are not asking for crumbs, but for the opportunity to develop economically."
Tonight's dinner was also attended by the presidents of Colombia and
Bolivia and the vice president of Ecuador, all of whom pressed Bush for
an extension and
expansion of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which expired in December.
Renewal of the 1991 pact, which provided duty-free access to U.S. markets
for a range of Andean products, was passed months ago by the House but
stalled in the Senate, where a handful of members object to the addition of new products, including assembled textile goods and some packaged foods. At today's
news conference with Toledo, Bush blamed the Senate for failing to pass the measure in time for his trip. But Andean governments have privately criticized the
administration for promising to fight for it then failing to pay attention when it began to founder last fall in Congress.
The trade measure is especially important to Toledo, a 55-year-old economist
elected on a platform of political reform and economic progress last year
president Alberto Fujimori fled the country in the face of corruption and human rights abuse charges. As Peruvian unemployment has climbed into the double-digits,
the country has been swept by worker unrest and Toledo's popularity has dropped below 30 percent.
As the two leaders met this afternoon in the Colonial-style presidential
palace on Lima's central square, more than 7,000 police officers were deployed
streets, many in full riot gear. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing Wednesday that killed nine people. Peruvian officials have said, however, they
suspect a resurgent Shining Path guerrilla movement, thought to have largely disbanded after its leader was arrested in 1992.
Already jittery U.S. and Peruvian security officials were put on even
higher alert this morning after six small homemade explosives were tossed
from a car and
detonated on the roadside in a poor, eastern district of Lima far from anywhere Bush was scheduled to visit. Police also cracked down on a small anti-U.S.
demonstration in a central city square, using tear gas and arresting 18 people.
Bush's one-day visit, the first to Peru by a sitting U.S. president,
was designed to demonstrate the administration's strong interest in Latin
America, particularly the
Andean countries where the United States is funding major military and development aid programs to try to stop the production and export of cocaine and heroin to
the United States.
The visit failed to produce the hoped-for renewal of an aerial surveillance
program, jointly operated with the United States in Peru and Colombia,
to interdict drug
exports. The program was shut down in April when the Peruvian air force shot down an aircraft carrying U.S. missionaries, killing a woman and her infant daughter.
A CIA-piloted plane patrolling over northern Peru mistakenly targeted the plane as a drug flight.
Investigations by the State Department and the Senate criticized the
program as sloppily organized and supervised. Although an administration
review was completed
last summer, and the White House has repeatedly indicated it intended to reactivate the flights, it has not yet done so. Bush said today that the matter was still under
review. Reinstatement of the program is important to Toledo and Colombian President Andres Pastrana as an indication of U.S. support and trust.
Toledo also planned today to ask Bush for faster action on a Peruvian
appeal to declassify U.S. government documents related to Fujimori and
his former security
chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. Montesinos, once a close CIA ally, is now jailed on corruption and human rights charges. U.S. sources said that the two leaders
discussed the matter, but they gave no indication of progress.
Toledo greeted Bush at a Peruvian air force base next to the international
airport this afternoon with a full military honor guard, troop review and
21-gun salute. Bush
sped through the streets of Lima accompanied by scores of policemen to a meeting with U.S. Embassy staff before heading to the presidential palace. He and
Toledo, who have met twice before, walked into the building with their arms around each other.
At the news conference, Bush announced several U.S. initiatives, including
the resumption of a U.S. Peace Corps program here and establishment of
training center. In response to a question from a Peruvian reporter asked why Bush wasn't promoting "a Marshall Plan for South America, said "I think our
commitment speaks for itself."
Repeating his support for the trade pact, Bush said he appreciated "the
chance to come and explain it to the Peruvian people that our [commitment]
is more than just
words -- ours is deeds and action."
But Bush focus on terrorism and the drug traffickingwhich his administration
has described as its close relative. The United States and Peru were "strong
allies" in the
anti-terrorism war, Bush said, "and when we win, our peoples will be better off. You can't alleviate poverty if there's terror in your neighborhood. It's impossible to
achieve what we want if terrorists run free."
The issue was underlined both by the Wednesday bombing and an administration
request to Congress last week to expand U.S. military aid and training
-- now limited to anti-drug efforts -- to that government's decades-long war against leftist guerrillas. Both the U.S. and Colombian governments have labeled the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as a terrorist group.
U.S. anti-drug assistance to Colombia over the last two years has totaled
nearly $2 billion. A much smaller program in Peru, about $150 million in
the current budget,
is also limited to fighting drugs. But U.S. officials here said this week there was "no question" that Washington would offer immediate anti-terrorism assistance if
determined that the Shining Path was responsible for the car bombing. Although no Americans were killed in the attack, FBI agents here are helping with the
The status of the drug war throughout the region has been a major source
of concernfor the administration. Although coca cultivation has greatly
diminished in Peru
and Boliva, it has vastly increased in Colombia, where the FARC, along with a right-wing paramilitary army, has become deeply involved in its processing and
Now, Peruvian officials have expressed concern that coca growing may be entering a new upswing here.
The Andean governments have argued, and the Bush administration has
agreed, that one of the best ways to stop cultivation of coca and opium
poppies, the raw
material of heroin, is to provide more jobs. And Bush said today, "the best thing America needs to do" to reduce drug exports from the Andean region is to "to
reduce demand" for them at home."