LIMA, Peru – President Alan Garcia said Chile should bury the hatchet after Peru removed a top military official who had said that any Chileans who come to Peru should "leave in a coffin."
Army chief Gen. Edwin Donayre was replaced Friday more than a week after his anti-Chilean comments surfaced on Youtube.com, setting off a spat between two neighbors with a grudge dating back 124 years to a border war won by Chile.
In the video, Donayre told a social gathering: "The Chilean that enters (Peru) doesn't leave or he leaves in a coffin; if there aren't enough coffins, they'll leave in plastic bags."
Chile initially said it would be content with an apology from Garcia, but Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley later conditioned the resolution of the spat on Donayre's removal from his post.
Chile grew irritated after Peru decided to wait until Dec. 5, prompting Foxley to threaten vague punitive measures if Donayre was not fired immediately.
Garcia responded by saying he would not take "orders or pressures" from anyone.
Meanwhile, Donayre defended his comments, telling local media they were made in private and "only express the feelings of every soldier who loves his homeland."
At a farewell ceremony on Friday, soldiers hoisted Donayre on their shoulders and carried him through throngs of uniformed troops at the national army barracks in Lima.
Garcia said Donayre's removal means "there's nothing more to talk about" in the Chile dispute. He also told reporters that Donayre's removal was part of a planned restructuring of the military and had nothing to do with the comments.
Peruvians still resent the loss of a chunk of coastline to Chile in the 1879-84 War of the Pacific.
The two nations have recently fought over naming rights for the fiery grape brandy pisco, and earlier this year Peru sued in international court over the location of their maritime border through bountiful fishing waters.