Since the War of the Pacific, or the Ten Cents War, from the years 1879 to 1883, the nation of Bolivia has not been able to access the Pacific Ocean. At least 14,000 soldiers and civilians were killed in the war. Following the war, the Treaty of Ancon was signed.
Chile annexed several territories that belonged to the Bolivia-Peru Confederation when they secured defeat. This led Chile to garner control over numerous mineral-rich lands, such as the Peruvian provinces of Arica, Tacna and Tarapaca, and the Bolivian province of Antofagasta.
In 1904, Bolivia and Chile signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which created definite borders. For more than 100 years now, there has been diplomatic tension and several on and off conflicts due to political instability.
Last year, three Chilean architects proposed a measure to allow sea access to Bolivia. The proposal suggests constructing a tunnel that would run from the Bolivian border through the Chilean region of Arica to an artificial land in the Pacific Ocean.
After many years, the tunnel proposal would allow the Bolivian economy to gain access to the commercial vastness of the Pacific Ocean by utilizing a three-mile strip that would give Bolivia the opportunity to export silver, tin and zinc.
The Peruvian government was dissatisfied with this idea because they felt the synthetic land would be within the waters of Peru. However, one of the architects, Carlos Martner, explained the tunnel.
“Neither Chile or Peru will lose not one centimeter of land and at the same time it’s a solution to Bolivia’s problem to communicate with the great Pacific ocean with all its economic characteristics,” said the Chilean architect in an interview with Reuters.
Months later, Bolivian President Eva Morales and Peruvian President Alan Garcia agreed to a deal that would allow Bolivian sea access.
“It is unjust that Bolivia has no sovereign outlet to the ocean. Bolivia will have a place for these young people who have sworn to defend the sovereignty of their country to study, live and teach their zeal and patriotism,” said the Peruvian leader in an interview with the Merco Press news agency (via Press TV).
“This is a country that needs the backing of its brothers to build a common front in defense of an inalienable right.”
The tunnel has been put on hold for quite some time. In June, Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca told reporters that he expected Chile to reopen dialogue regarding Bolivia’s tunnel.
The Bolivian president vowed to take the issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“The meeting of a mixed commission from both countries was unilaterally suspended by the Chile’s government last November, so Bolivia is waiting for a statement to restore it,” said the foreign minister, reports Xinhua.