February 27, 2021

Pérez de Cuellar, the Peruvian diplomat and politician of more global relevance


Javier Pérez de Cuellar, who died on Wednesday at the age of one hundred, was one of the most important Peruvians in world history in the political and diplomatic sphere, as, until now, the only Latin American to occupy the General Secretariat of the United Nations, between 1982 and 1991.

Considered a tireless, effective, patient and cautious negotiator, during his ten years at the head of the UN, Pérez de Cuellar showed great interest in third world countries and acted as peacemaker in various international conflicts.

The diplomat died Wednesday at his home due to natural causes and will be buried this Friday with honors as head of state in the former Presbitero Maestro cemetery, in Lima, with the presence of the president of Peru, Martín Vizcarra.

Pérez de Cuéllar, discreet in his last years of life, left a country sorry for his loss and proud of his figure.

FROM MALVINAS TO THE PÉRSICO GULF

Among numerous interventions at the head of the UN, he played a decisive role as an intermediary in the Falklands War, which faced Argentina with Great Britain in 1982, and got Iraqi Saddam Hussein and Iranian Ruholá Khomeini to agree on peace through Security Council resolution 598, passed in 1987.

He also dedicated his efforts in favor of the Contadora Group, a basic framework for the pacification of Central America, and for the negotiated departure of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, in addition to interceding in the negotiations for the independence of Namibia and the Sahara conflict between Morocco and the Polisario.

He interceded in the Cyprus-Turkey contacts and under his auspices there was, in January 1990, an agreement on a UN peace plan for Cambodia; In addition to being one of the most prominent mediators in the Persian Gulf conflict.

A LIMEAN LAWYER

Born in Lima on January 19, 1920, and from an aristocratic family, Javier Felipe Ricardo Pérez de Cuellar Guerra married in the first nuptials with the Frenchwoman Yvette Roberts, with whom he had two children, and later with the Peruvian Marcela Temple Seminario, with whom He had two other children.

Pérez de Cuellar studied law at the Catholic University of Lima and in 1940 began his diplomatic career by joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru.

Four years later, he was appointed secretary of the embassy in Paris, then moved to London, La Paz and Rio de Janeiro, and was also a member of the Peruvian delegation at the first session of the UN General Assembly, in 1946.

In September 1975 he was appointed Special Representative of the then UN Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim, in Cyprus, since he held until December 1977 and from which he achieved one of his greatest diplomatic achievements: persuade, in 1975, the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities of the island to commit to negotiate.

AN ASCENDING RACE

On February 27, 1979, he was appointed Assistant Secretary General for Special Political Affairs of the United Nations and in May 1981 he was reinstated to the Foreign Ministry, although he continued to represent the UN Secretary General on Afghan issues.

On December 12, 1981 he was elected UN Secretary General for the period 82-86, which made him the first Ibero-American diplomat to hold the high position.

In 1986, Pérez de Cuellar expressed his intention not to run for a second term, but he was re-elected on October 10 of that year.

On December 31, 1991 he was replaced as Secretary General of the United Nations by the Egyptian Boutros Ghali and in 1992 he was appointed president of the World Commission for Culture and Development of Unesco.

IN THE PERUVIAN POLICY

In 1995, he presented his candidacy for the Peruvian Presidency for the Union for Peru (UPP) party and obtained 21.7% of the votes, compared to 64.4% of Alberto Fujimori, who was re-elected for a second presidential term.

In November 2000, he assumed as Foreign Minister of the Transitional Government of Valentín Paniagua, who assumed the Presidency for a year after Fujimori’s resignation amid a corruption scandal.

In September 2001, he was appointed Peruvian ambassador to France and a representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In addition to receiving numerous awards in Peru and more than thirty countries, as well as honorary doctorates from fifty universities, he received awards such as the Prince of Asturias for Ibero-American Cooperation (Spain, 1987), the Olof Palme Award (Sweden , 1988) and Jawaharlal Nehru (India, 1989).

He also authored the works “Diplomatic Law Manual” (1964), “Order or Anarchy” (1992), “Pilgrimages for Peace” (1997) and “Memories: personal and political memories” (2012). In 2014 he published “Los Andagoya”, his only novel.

David Blanco Bonilla

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