Chile refuses Bolivia sovereign access to Pacific Ocean

Bolivia and Chile have their political differences, but they seem to have trouble resolving them without long, drawn-out legal battles. This May, both countries will…

The busy cargo seaport in Valparaiso, Chile is the most important seaport in that country, and Bolivia wants access to it. (Shutterstock)

Bolivia and Chile have their political differences, but they seem to have trouble resolving them without long, drawn-out legal battles.

This May, both countries will hold a bilateral meeting to discuss Bolivia’s allegations that Chile is in violation of an international transportation agreement by restricting access to Bolivian truck drivers at its ports, according to Turkish Weekly. 

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In other words, Bolivia is fighting for sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, which Chile refuses to it.

This meeting, which will be decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, was decided upon after the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), which is comprised of 13 countries, carried out its 17th Foreign Relations Council meeting in August in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Bolivia and Chile have their differences but they seem to have trouble resolving them without long, drawn-out legal battles.

Cityscape of La Paz, Bolivia with Illimani Mountain rising in the background. (Shutterstock)

ALADI hopes to help resolve this ongoing transportation dispute between the two countries without having to resort to extreme measures.

Bolivia filed its demand for “sovereign access to the sea” in April 2013. They are not demanding a redrawing of borders, but rather that Chile “negotiate in good faith” access to coastline lost in a 19th century war.

Chile rejected Bolivia’s demand and considers the issue settled after leaders relinquished 250 miles (400 km) of coastline and 46,000 square miles (120,000 square km) of territory in a 1904 peace treaty following the 1879-84 War of the Pacific. Bolivia argues it was pressured into signing the treaty and simply wants a chance at reasonably altering the agreement.

Bolivia and Paraguay are the only two land locked South American countries. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Bolivia was rated as having the second worst transportation infrastructure in the entire continent, with only 7.1 percent of Bolivian roadways being paved.

Bolivia and Chile have their differences but they seem to have trouble resolving them without long, drawn-out legal battles.

Lake Titicacasee in Copacabana in the Bolivia mountains. (Shutterstock)

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Currently about 80% of cargo between South America’s two coasts travels by sea so it is of the utmost importance that Bolivia secures reliable and acceptable sea access.

Gaining sovereign access to the sea and increasing domestic transportation infrastructure will continue to be one of the government’s key priorities over the next five years in order to reduce transport costs in foreign trade.