LA PAZ – President Evo Morales said on Wednesday that he is ready to reestablish diplomatic relations with Chile to seek the mediation of the pope in finding a solution to Bolivia’s demand for the return of Pacific coastline it lost in a 19th-century war.
“I want to say to the Chilean government: we are in agreement on reestablishing diplomatic relations so that in less than five years the issue of sea for Bolivia – an exit to the Pacific with sovereignty, and a guarantor, brother Pope Francis – may be resolved,” Morales said before the media.
The president added that he is ready to make the efforts to have Francis be the guarantor in the matter and invited Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to travel to The Vatican to discuss the issue.
“We hope for a positive response in looking at and surmounting the problems of the two brotherly neighbor nations, Chile and Bolivia, to work together for our peoples,” Morales said.
The Bolivian leader noted that the Chilean government some days ago proposed reestablishing diplomatic relations, which have been suspended since 1962, with an interlude between 1975 and 1987, due to the longstanding Bolivian demand to recover its exit to the sea.
The Chilean proposal was made by Foreign Minister Heraldo Muńoz after Pope Francis commented on the controversy during his recent visit to Bolivia.
The pontiff gave his support to a “frank and open” dialogue to resolve the problems between the two countries and also asserted that “it is not unfair” for Bolivia to desire an exit to the sea.
In 2013, the Morales government went before the International Court of Justice at The Hague to present a legal request seeking a ruling that would obligate Chile to negotiate in good faith on the issue of restoring Bolivia’s sovereign access to the sea.
Chile objected to the ICJ’s authority in the matter and rejects Bolivia’s request with the argument that the boundaries between the two nations were established and fixed in a 1904 treaty.