CARACOLLO, Bolivia – Bolivian President Evo Morales celebrated on Saturday the “historic” sewing and unfolding of a 200-kilometer-long (124.3 miles) flag with which the country is attempting to beat a world record and draw international attention to its sea access dispute with Chile.
Sections of the flag were crafted by public institutions and social movements and were stitched together Saturday on the highway connecting the western regions of La Paz and Oruro.
“Let us all join our flags for our maritime demand,” Morales said at the inaugural event in the town of Caracollo.
“This is a historic, unprecedented and unforgettable event. Our maritime demand flag stretches more than 200 kilometers, something never seen before in the world,” he said.
Each section of the flag, measuring ten by three meters (32.8 by 9.8 ft), has a blue background with an emblem showing the three national colors, red, yellow and green, and a wiphala, the multicolor insignia representing indigenous peoples from the Andes.
The national emblem and the wiphala are surrounded 10 golden stars, one for each of Bolivia’s nine regions and the tenth representing the coast that was lost to Chile in 1879 during the War of the Pacific.
The unfurling of this flag is part of a wider campaign in support of Bolivia’s dispute with Chile for a sovereign access to the Pacific.
On March 19, both countries will present their case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, marking the last phase of this suit filed in 2013 by the Bolivian government to force Chile to negotiate.
Bolivia argues that it has a “right of expectation” since different Chilean administrations had allegedly promised Bolivia a sovereign sea access.
Chile, for its part, argues that there is nothing to negotiate since the borders between the two countries were established in an agreement signed 25 years after the War of the Pacific, while also arguing that the ICJ has no authority over the country’s territory.