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  • Bolivians gather in La Paz to rally in support of the maritime claim. The sign reads "Sea."

    Bolivians gather in La Paz to rally in support of the maritime claim. The sign reads "Sea."

Published 21 March 2018

The final hearings in Bolivia’s international lawsuit against Chile for access to sea began on March 19, and are set to end on March 28.

Chilean oligarchs oppose the peaceful settlement of the maritime dispute between Bolivia and Chile according to President Evo Morales. Speaking at a press conference, after the country’s second hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands on Tuesday, Morales said: “At the moment, some people representing the Chilean oligarchs" don't want negotiations.

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Bolivia's Maritime Claim: Battle to Undo 139-Year-Old Conquest

The hearings in Bolivia’s international lawsuit against Chile for sea access began on March 19, and are set to end on March 28. After Chile and Bolivia present their final arguments, the Court will prepare their final, unappealable and binding ruling.

In 2013 the Plurinational State of Bolivia filed a lawsuit in the ICJ requesting the Court oblige Chile to enter negotiations over access to the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia was born as a sovereign state with roughly 400 kilometers of Pacific Coast, but Chile claimed it after winning the War of the Pacific (1879 - 1884).

In 1904 the two countries signed a treaty in which Bolivia accepted the territorial loss. According to Chile, it has nothing to discuss with Bolivia because the agreement settled any land dispute. However, Bolivia differs and argues there have been multiple occasions when Chilean governments offered to negotiate a deal for Bolivia to regain access to the Pacific Ocean. There is also a lack of political will from Chilean President Sebastian Piñera to return the disputed region to Bolivia or enter into negotiation with them about a settlement of some type. 

Political analyst Francisco Carballo told Sputnik news in an interview on Tuesday: “Bolivia has little chance of getting something from Chile (because) Antofagasta, one of the cities at the heart of the dispute, is one of the richest areas in Chile, and represents around 30 percent of the country’s total exports; there are also most of the country’s most important copper mines in the area.”  

Morales has repeatedly stated he is prepared to discuss the options to regain sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, but he also understands the obstacles. VIA Twitter, on Tuesday, Morales said: “the oligarchies that threw our peoples into war, today became some families that privatized the sea.”

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