SANTIAGO – Former presidents of Chile on Monday rejected the latest statements by Bolivian leader Evo Morales against Santiago along with Bolivia’s foreign policy at an official event at the La Moneda presidential palace.
“The calls for dialogue (by Morales) are ridiculous, when what the International Court (of Justice) at The Hague is asking us for is dialogue. We have to await the Court’s ruling,” said former President Ricardo Lagos, who governed from 2000-2006.
Morales on Sunday said via Twitter that he intends to hold “a meeting of Bolivian and Chilean authorities to deal with humanitarian issues,” adding that “it would be healthy for our peoples and the peoples of the world.”
In addition, Bolivia on Monday complained that the private administration of the Chilean port of Arica is threatening to suspend its handling of Bolivian cargo if a debt stemming from an increase in tariffs dating back to June that La Paz considers “arbitrary” is not paid.
The presidents were on hand for the presentation of the book “Vocacion de Paz, la Politica Exterior de Chile” (Calling for Peace: The Foreign Policy of Chile), presided at by President Michelle Bachelet.
“The Bolivian president and his foreign minister have provocative attitudes, as per the show last Sunday, ... a provocation that Chile ... should not accept,” said former President Eduardo Frei (1994-2000) regarding Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca’s controversial recent visit to two northern Chilean ports.
Meanwhile, Chile’s representative before the ICJ, Jose Miguel Insulza, called Choquehuanca’s “inspection” of the ports an “exaggerated maneuver” and criticized the call for dialogue that Morales issued to Bachelet.
“Humanitarian dialogue is appropriate for Syria, for Sudan. Speaking about humanitarian dialogue here is setting a trap; a mistake that we must not commit,” Insulza said.
Meanwhile, former President Sebastian Piñera (2010-2014) said that Morales “is a man who is crudely lacking in truth” and that Bolivia “systematically refuses to fulfill its commitment” regarding the 1904 treaty giving Chile sovereignty over the coastal territories Bolivia lost during the 1879-1884 War of the Pacific.
After the Chilean presidents expressed themselves to reporters, Morales said on his Twitter account that his remarks are not insults, but rather that “we are (only) asking for our rights to be respected.”
La Paz filed suit before the ICJ to try and recover its coastal territories and resolve the controversy involving the waters of the Silala River, which arises in Bolivia but flows into Chilean territory.