Peru – Spain relations, an insight into the Peruvian embassy in Madrid.
29 noviembre, 2016
When I started contacting embassies a couple weeks ago for an interview, I would have never realized that I would be looking now at so many of where to choose from: Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Dominican Republican just to name a few, gave me the thumbs up right away, and in the end I decided to put on paper what I learnt about Peru regarding bilateral relations with Spain.
On Tuesday, November the 22nd I was appointed by the Counselor Minister Reynaldo Portugal at the Peruvian Embassy in Madrid. He received me with two of his colleagues, Second Secretary Willy Salazar, and Lawyer Hermes Alván.
Minister Portugal started talking about the history and values the couple of countries share in common resembling democracy, religion, laws, gastronomy, language, and economic policies just to name a few. Although the relations between both countries has had its ups and downs, he reckons it has been stable and solid once diplomatic relations were reestablished during the late 70s, the period when both exit nondemocratic regimes.
After that, the two countries have signed several bilateral treaties over the years, one Reynaldo recalls is the social security treaty, which allows Peruvians that have been working in Spain, to retire in Peru with a proportional pension.
“It ́s not a perfect treaty as it has some flaws”, he recalls, but it ́s one of the ones he says they are currently working on improving.
Second Secretary Willy Salazar ratified Reynaldo ́s position stating that Spain is currently one of the countries Peru wants to have as a strategic partner by having an open agenda on several matters. By briefly describing Peru ́s national plan for the next years, Mr. Salazar mentioned that Peru ́s goal is to open a new stage in the international ground in which Peru, wants to be an even more relevant player by trying to position itself as a regional developing power, strengthening its image worldwide by cooperating with other relevant players, and protecting its citizens abroad.
In almost all of these objectives, Spain can be seen as an integral partner as it shares in common most of the interests previously stated, Mr. Salazar said.
One of the examples the three officials share, which explain Mr. Salazar ́s posture, are the two main priorities Peru has regarding Foreign Policy. These were described by them as Peru gaining access to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and strengthening the deal Peru currently holds concerning the Schengen zone. In both concerns, Spain can be a crucial partner that might act as a channel that might position Peru in a better place to negotiate, as well as assisting Peru in achieving its goals, they mentioned.
Reynaldo also spoke about how interested Spain had become on the Pacific Alliance, a free-trade organization Peru is part of. As Spain is the foreign country with the most
direct inversion in Peru, and the presence of Spanish companies seems to be on the rise, he says, Spain has developed an increasing awareness on wanting to gain indirect access to the Pacific Ocean, therefore finding this organization quite relevant. Willy affirms that the same way Peru considers Spain a crucial partner serving to them as a channel, this time is the other way around. As he states, Spain, which is currently an observer in this organization wants to become something more for the reasons above explained, maybe not a full member, yet something more like an observer with a vote, or in other words, “an observator +” Willy said.
Another example of cooperation between Spain and Peru as Reynaldo recalls, has been a project regarding military observatory vessels, a project recently gone un- classified. This project consisted of the construction of two vessels in Vigo, to serve the Peruvian army in observatory missions throughout the sea. Not only did we count on Spain to help us develop the vessels, he stated, but also to train our personnel into operating and managing them.
On a related matter concerning free trade organizations, when asked about the relevance of the Andean Community, they showed some difference in opinions.
They stated that Peru has always been keen to participate and cooperate with others fostering organizations of this type, and especially when the members inside are countries with whom they share the same interests, in this case, an economic one.
However, after the withdrawal of Chile first, and Venezuela second, the organization has lost part of its charm, Reynaldo mentions. Entities such as the Andean parliament have lost relevance and they are in a severe need of reform, Willy spoke. Nevertheless, is not that Peru wants to abandon, the purpose it originally intended greatly benefits our country, for example with our neighboring country Ecuador in which some of our industries take great advantage of it, Willy and Reynaldo remarked. As Peru has been advancing in terms of new trade bilateral agreements with other countries, the Andean Community is kept now to a secondary role. “Just take a look at the figures” Reynaldo continued, 16% of our trade is with the E.U., 22% is with China, and the U.S. occupies the largest percentage, whereas within the Andean Community the records are kept as low as 7 %; it is still relevant but definitely not a priority.
Moving on with the interview, I decided to conclude by asking what kind of image Peru was trying to portray to the world. Reynaldo mentioned that the Peruvians have seen Spain as a role model in terms of world tourism leaders and that they were trying to extrapolate that in order for Peru to be a more attractive country to visit. Furthermore, he explained that Peru also wanted to be an example to follow and seek advice for, as he believes they already have the knowledge and the experience so they can share it with others. He continues by saying Peru now has succeeded in the development stage and that they feel now confident enough to give solid advice to its counterparts around the globe if they request them to do so. Last but not least, other features he ́d like to emphasize is their political stability and their values of democracy previously mentioned as a part of the Peru brand.
My personal impression of the time I ́ve spent in the Embassy couldn’t ́t be better. I learned a lot of things not only regarding the relations between both of the Hispanic countries, but getting to analyze the profiles of each of the interviewees and comparing them with other diplomats interviewed so far in terms of background and experience, was in overall an excellent enriching experience.
Pedro V. Esteban Orellana