Boliviamar is an agreement between the Peruvian and Bolivian governments which, if approved, means Bolivia will have a port to call its own for the first time in 134 years. The landlocked country has been fighting to reclaim a national outlet to the sea ever since it lost its coastal territory to Chile in the War of the Pacific. The Argentina Independent hit the streets to find out what locals had to say on the matter.
Yes, Bolivia has the right to demand an outlet to the sea from Chile. Everyone has the right to make a claim as long as they do it peacefully and through the right channels. For example, Bolivia could take the case to the United Nations. War is not the answer.
I think that Bolivia should continue to demand an outlet to the sea from Chile because originally, that land belonged to them. Peru is not obliged to give Bolivia access to the sea, it’s Chile’s responsibility because they took that land in the war and it wasn’t theirs. Actually, I don’t think anything belongs to anyone, but it only seems fair that if Bolivia originally had an outlet to the sea, they should continue to have that.
I think that at the moment in Latin America, we can see generous gestures between countries and some that are not so generous. It would be good for Latin American countries to come together, for everyone to start being a bit more considerate of one another and not to be divided by nationality.
Although I think that legally, Bolivia has the right to make a claim against Chile, if Peru has already given them access to the sea, Bolivia should now move on. They got what they wanted. Why keep fighting for something when we are trying to achieve peace between countries? Peace is what is most important. I think that Peru granting Bolivia access to the sea is a very nice gesture and to tell you the truth, I don’t think that Bolivia should continue to make a claim for the land they lost.
Boliva definitely has the right to make the claim but it is going to be a very long process. I don’t think it will happen overnight. As a goodwill gesture, Chile should give Bolivia access to the sea but it is more complicated than that. We have to see what is in it for Chile. Maybe, for example, it is not convenient for them to give Bolivia access to the sea because of the fishing industry. But as Latin brothers, Chile should definitely make a goodwill gesture and give Bolivia access to the sea.
Perú has always stood out as a country which defends the other Latin American nations. In the Malvinas War it was the first country to support Argentina. Chile has an entirely different political ideology, so a similar gesture from them would be a lot harder to achieve.
I think Bolivia absolutely has the right to ask for what is rightfully theirs. The war between Bolivia and Chile was very unfair and, as a result, Bolivia lost their outlet to the sea. It occurs to me that Peru’s decision to give Bolivia access to the sea is a political strategy to strengthen ties between the countries in UNASUR [Union of South American Nations]. With this gesture, Peru is making a statement against Chile, which has a different political ideology. So, I think that the Peruvian Congress will approve the decision. We will have to see how Chile will react because, in the long-run, they are going to be completely isolated in the area and I don’t think that will benefit them. If [Michelle] Bachelet is elected [president in the upcoming elections] in Chile, things could change. However, the right has a lot of influence in Chile and I don’t know if they will ever end up with close ties to UNASUR . Chile is more closely associated with the United States. It will also be interesting to see if Bolivia will become completely dependent on Peru as a result of this gesture.
If this access to the sea is approved by the Peruvian Congress it will be very interesting for Latin American relations. I just hope that it is not just a political strategy that comes to nothing in the end. Bolivia needs access to the sea, so it would be wonderful for them if they finally got it. But we are so used to these promises being nothing more than political gestures that are never delivered. In this case, Bolivia will have high expectations and so I hope that everything goes as planned. This gesture between Latin American countries sets a good example which could inspire other countries in the region to collaborate and end so many pointless conflicts. I hope that this gesture will ultimately bring Latin American countries closer together.