Bolivia’s president resurrects his country’s claim to a sea border. At an annual parade in the capital La Paz, Evo Morales galvanised his people into thinking a long-lost costal stretch of land, which once belonged to them, could once again become Bolivian. It was 130 years ago that land-locked Bolivia lost the territory to Chile but the once-bitter relations between the two countries have recently improved.
President Morales said: “It is important to appeal to the people. It’s a time for the people. If in the past, political parties, governments and administrations have failed, it’s time to negotiate, people to people.”
The speech reflected the importance the disputed land holds for the country. It is seen as a key to economic growth through exports and particularly natural gas. The sea dispute is at the root of thorny relations between Bolivia, one of Latin America’s poorest countries and better-off Chile. The countries have had no diplomatic ties since 1978, but in recent months both sides have expressed a willingness to improve the situation – though the issue of maritime access has still not made it on to the agenda.