LA PAZ – Bolivia filed an application against Chile before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) demanding compensation for the decades the latter country has used waters of the Silala River, which it claims were artificially diverted.
Bolivian President Evo Morales announced to a press conference in La Paz the case his country has brought before the ICJ at The Hague in the Netherlands.
The suit comes in answer to another that Chile entered against Bolivia in that court, insisting that the Silala is an international river that can be legally shared, against the Bolivian argument that it flows from a spring on its territory that was artificially diverted toward the Chilean side of the border.
Evo Morales said that Bolivia has responded to Chile before this court with the presentation this Friday of a “counter-memorial,” which contains various studies “confirming that the river flows artificially toward Chile through canals constructed in the last century.”
For that reason, he demanded that The Hague reject the Chilean memorial based on historical and judicial arguments laid out by Bolivia.
Besides this response defending itself against Chile, Bolivia presented a counter-memorial, which gives it the option of acting as the plaintiff in this case, though Morales himself had dismissed that possibility last June.
The president defended the “sovereignty” of his country over this river, which flows from the Bolivian area of Potosi to the Chilean area of Antofagasta.
For that reason, he insisted on the “sovereign right” of his country “to decide” about a river that has “an artificial current” over which “Chile has no right”
The Bolivian head of state demanded “the payment of compensation” without specifying the amount, in an appearance with no questions by the media allowed.
Chile must come to an agreement on the matter after decades of using the waters of the Silala, especially for industrial purposes and for mining in particular, “without paying any compensation” to Bolivia.
The counter-memorial is a “strong” response to the memorial presented by Chile to the ICJ and does not prevent “other demands” that Bolivia might make, the president said.
Morales recalled that the Bolivian Constitution acknowledges water as a human right and as such Bolivia defends it before the United Nations, while warning that the “hydrological crisis” between countries puts international peace and security at risk.