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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 11:35 GMT
Inca graffiti reopens border row
By Clinton Porteous
BBC News, Santiago

Inca ruins at Machu Picchu
The pair are accused of damaging a site near Machu Picchu
Chile has officially complained to Peru over the detention for more than a month-and-a-half of two young Chileans.

The pair have been accused of painting graffiti on historic Inca walls, damaging Peruvian national heritage.

In Chile many say they are being treated too harshly, but in Peru there have been public demonstrations in favour of their detention.

The two nations historically have tense relations and the incident is emerging as a new point of conflict.

Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker spoke by telephone to his Peruvian counterpart and expressed his concern over the detention of the two Chileans.

Mr Walker said it was a nonsense that the pair could not be released on bail, as it would not affect the outcome of the case.

The two men, aged 19 and 20, were arrested for spray-painting graffiti on walls in the traditional Inca capital of Cuzco.

Cuzco is a major tourist destination and the gateway to the nearby Machu Picchu archaeological site.

Bail debate

The pair are accused of damaging Peruvian national heritage and could face between three and eight years in jail.
Map showing Chile and Cuzco in Peru
One of them has been refused bail, while the other can only be released if there is payment of more than $20,000.

His family say they have no hope of raising the money.

Under the proposed terms of bail, the two men cannot leave Peru.

They are currently being held at a jail in Cuzco and have complained of mistreatment.

Last week the Chilean government sent a representative to inspect the prison and now it has lodged a complaint.

The ongoing incident is adding to the tension between the two nations that have disputed their maritime border since a major war that ended in the 1880s.

In Chile today, there are many examples of discrimination against Peruvian immigrants, especially in the workplace.

In Peru, meanwhile, there are strong signs of anti-Chilean sentiment in parts of the media and in some public protests.

Country profile: Peru
16 Dec 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Peru
13 Dec 03 |  Country profiles

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