International court to rule on Bolivia’s claims for access to Pacific Ocean

World Today

A 19th-century dispute brought back to life. Land-locked Bolivia is seeking access to the Pacific Ocean, which it lost to Chile in a war almost 150 years ago. The International Court of Justice will make its decision on Monday, five years after La Paz brought the case to the Hague. CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.

Expectations are high in Bolivia on the eve of this historic ruling. Every child in landlocked Bolivia is taught how the country lost its access to the Pacific Ocean and that it has a rightful claim to get it back.

The maritime demand has been a cornerstone of Evo Morales’ 12-year presidency.

“Bolivia was founded with the sea, the first five constitutions of Chile recognize it,” Morales said. “A treaty in 1866 recognizes Bolivia’s sea access. I deeply regret that in 1879, with an invasion, Chile took away our sea access, for that reason right is on our side.”

Chile annexed Bolivia’s coastal territory in the 1880s following the War of the Pacific and has maintained the territorial dispute with Bolivia was resolved in a 1904 treaty.

“That treaty set out clearly and precisely the borders between Chile and Bolivia,” said Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. “As a consequence, Chile doesn’t have pending border issues with Bolivia and for that reason has no obligation to negotiate border issues with Bolivia.”

Despite rich gas reserves, Bolivia is one of South America’s poorest nations and Morales and his legal team claim that being landlocked for more than a century has stunted the nation’s growth.

Bolivia is confident the international court will order Chile to negotiate access to the Pacific Ocean,

“We believe that nobody can refuse dialogue and nobody can refuse a peaceful solution to these differences between two countries,” said Bolivian Foreign Minister Diego Pary. “In that sense, we are confident the result will be favorable for Bolivia.”

The ruling, five years in the making, will place the decades-long bilateral dispute on the international stage: