Peruvian authorities sent an emissary of an independence movement in Western Sahara on a flight back to Spain after she spent two weeks in Lima airport and refused to leave, the national migration authority said.
Jadiyetu El Mohtar, a Spanish citizen who describes herself as ambassador to Peru for a disputed area in Western Sahara known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), was denied entry to Peru for alleged political activities on a prior visit, Peru’s foreign ministry said.
Peru is one of a few dozen countries that recognises the self-declared SADR, which the Polisario independence movement claims is a separate state from Morocco. SADR is not recognised as a state by the United Nations and Peru suspended diplomatic ties with SADR in 1996.
El Mohtar hoped to re-establish those ties, she told Reuters from the airport before her departure. She was awaiting an appeal to the decision to block her entry.
Peru said El Mohtar violated the terms of a tourist visa by taking part in political activities during a previous visit. It refused to grant her another visa and urged her to comply with its order and fly back to Spain.
El Mohtar denied any wrongdoing and said her stay in Peru in July and August included meetings with environmentalists and feminists and did not violate migration laws.
“I am sleeping on an inflatable mattress,” El Mohtar said. “I have come to work to pave the way for re-establishing diplomatic relations with Peru.”
Peru’s foreign affairs ministry said it was not considering re-establishing diplomatic ties with SADR and does not recognise Polisario representatives as diplomats.
El Mohtar has visited Colombia, Ecuador and Cuba without any problem.
Earlier this year, Peru banned a Canadian activist and a US journalist from Peru after they screened a film critical of a mining company in an Andean region while on tourist visas.
In April, the UN Security Council unanimously backed attempts to restart talks between Morocco and Polisario over the Western Sahara conflict and extended its peacekeeping mission there for another year.