SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet received on Monday a copy of the report her country filed before the International Court of Justice at The Hague over Santiago’s dispute with Bolivia regarding the Silala River, emphasizing that it is an “international river.”
“We have the geological and hydrological evidence to confirm that the Silala is an international river,” said Bachelet at La Moneda Palace after receiving the document from Foreign Relations Minister Heraldo Muñoz.
Santiago’s aim is for the ICJ to declare that the border river dividing Chile from Bolivia is an international river and it thus has the right to use its waters.
“Bolivia cannot ... appropriate waters that are shared,” said Bachelet, adding that her country tried to resolve the dispute “diplomatically, but it could not be done.”
Muñoz said at a press conference that Ximena Fuentes, Chile’s official agent in the legal battle with Bolivia over the Silala at the ICJ, on Monday presented the text, consisting of more than six volumes of appendices and maps.
That documentation, Muñoz said, proves “unequivocally that the Silala is an international river and has been for 8,400 years, according to the scientific evidence.”
Bolivia claims that the Silala’s waters were artificially diverted toward Chilean territory more than 100 years ago, accusing Santiago of making abusive use of those hydrological resources.
Muñoz, on the other hand, emphasized that Bolivia had acknowledged for a century that the Silala was international and stated that “they changed their version” in 1999.
He said that from a scientific point of view, the Silala flows naturally toward Chile due to the geographical configuration of the land and the law of gravity, adding that the Chilean team had top-level experts’ reports supporting that stance.
Muñoz said that his country tried for years to negotiate an agreement on “reasonable and equitable” use of the Silala with Bolivia, but La Paz “always withdrew from the talks.”
Bolivia now has one year to present a counter-claim at The Hague, after which the court must set a date for its reply and/or ruling.