On April 20, 2001, Peruvian security forces, with CIA help, shot down a small floatplane over the Amazon near the Brazilian border. American missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter died in the attack.
Having filed no flight plan, the aircraft’s pilot failed to respond over the radio. Authorities suspected the plane of transporting drugs, but found no contraband aboard.
The tragic incident led to a major de-escalation of aerial-interdiction efforts in the region. But in 2015, Peru revived its aggressive shoot-down policy.
Lima’s new law expands the definition of a “hostile” aircraft to include any aircraft authorities even suspect of drug-trafficking. “When an intercepted civilian aircraft has been declared hostile, it ceases to be a civilian aircraft,” the law states.
Peru passed its Control, Security and Defense of National Airspace Law in August 2015 in response to increasing “narco-flights” from the Andes and Amazon in recent years. And Lima isn’t alone.
Argentina’s new president Mauricio Macri enacted an executive order in January 2016 authorizing the Argentine air force to identify, track, intimidate and shoot down suspected drug-trafficking planes. The press release cites the rise in violence and drug trafficking as justifications for the harsh measures.
Argentina’s shift is no surprise. Most of its cocaine comes by air from Peru and Bolivia.
Read the Remainder at War is Boring