The fishermen of Puerto Grau in Peru want access to waters they have long been denied. The Pacific here is rich in resources within 200 nautical miles of their country. So far they have been held out of reach.
One fisherman said: “We want to go there but they won’t let us. Supposedly the waters out there are Chilean. A lot of the fisherman at Puerto Grau complain about this – also those from Ilo.”
Another fisherman said: “If the ruling in The Hague comes out in our favour, we will have more maritime territory – and the fish are concentrated right in that area. It would be beneficial for us, and that’s the way it should be. How is it possible that Chile has all that sea?”
As it is, the Chile-Peru maritime border line follows the latitude 18º21’03” south.
Peru wants the border to be drawn tangentially from its coastline, which would net it nearly 40,000 square kilometres which Chile had attributed to it.
That happened in a dispute settlement after the Pacific War over nitrate resources from 1879-1883, when Chile annexed Bolivia’s coastline and a slice of Peru.
Tacna Provincial President Tito Chocano said that if the results from the Hague are negative he is confident that social movements will bring about greater consequences.
Peru took its complaint to the Hague in 2008. Its foreign minister presents the Peruvians’ point of view.
Rafael Roncagliolo said: “The most important thing for the court to do is to determine, as we maintain, that there was no border treaty between Peru and Chile, although Chile says there was. There are agreements from 1952 and 1954 but for us they don’t have any bearing on the border and can’t be considered as treaties.”
Chile wants the maritime limit kept as it is, but says it will accept the verdict of the International Court of Justice. More than 100,000 Peruvians are immigrants in Chile, and Chile has investments worth 12 billion euros in Peru.