Chile should not yield before Bolivia.
2 junio, 2016
Bolivia is asking once again for a sovereign access to the sea over Chile’s territory.
The conflict between Chile and Bolivia dates back to different issues caused because of different treaties that were sing related with the economical situation and borders. In the 1879’s treaty, the Bolivian government relent the taxes of Chilean Companies’ products, but four years after, this same government decreed the increased of the same taxes, contradicting themselves and the Treaty, and causing threats by Bolivia to confiscate Chilean Products if taxes were not paid. So, in this way we can speak that Bolivian government was who tempt the griefs that began war. On that same year, a Chilean warship with 200 soldiers was sent to occupied the areas in which the auction of Chilean Companies was taking place in Bolivia. In reaction, the Bolivian government declared the War, invoking the secret alliance they maintain with Peru, also Chile declared the War and ended as the winner of it. This was call the War of Pacific.
After the War, in 1904, Bolivia and Chile signed a Peace Treaty which ended the war, stablished the boarders between the countries and ceded 240 miles of Bolivias’s coastline — Bolivia’s only outlet to the sea — to the Chilean victors. Since then, Bolivia has repeatedly asked Chile for a sovereign access to the sea, something that Chile has always rejected for obvious reasons:
In first place, the reason why Bolivia is interested on recovering this territory, is not in their best geopolitical interest, but trading. Also, Bolivia recently brought the case before the Hague. They support their demands on the repeated promises from Chile, as long as Bolivia thinks this promises are binding, because they constitute a source of law called international costume.
In contrast, we consider that it is enough for Bolivia the access they already have through Atacama’s Corridor, which is an area over Chilean territory that allows Bolivia to trade, the free movement of people and some privileges related to taxes.
Honestly, the International Court of Justice has no legal jurisdiction over the request, because the controversy is already regulated by the 1904 Treaty. Furthermore, there is the opinion that if Chile yield before the request, this could mean to the international arena, including Peru –which was also involve into the Pacific War- , a complaint over territories lost during wars.
It is very important to highlight that this area has been benefited from Chilean legal system, investment and citizens’ work from more than a hundred years, so in consequence, the concession of this area would imply social disruption.
Finally, we consider that the most suitable option, gave by Chile’s President, is to permit Bolivia to build a harbor in the north-west of the country, so in this way import/export merchandise with destination to Bolivia would only pass trough Bolivian Customs and avoid Chilean ones, which would be a great advantage.