BUENOS AIRES – After 74 years, Bolivia and Paraguay on Tuesday settled a border conflict that led to the bloody 1932-1935 Chaco War.
Bolivian President Evo Morales and his Paraguayan counterpart, Fernando Lugo, received from Argentine head of state Cristina Fernandez the final report on the demarcation of the international boundary between Bolivia and Paraguay.
The document was prepared by a mixed commission that demarcated the border in compliance with the 1938 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Boundaries.
Argentina headed the commission due to the decision of the other countries that acted as treaty guarantors: Brazil, Chile, the United States, Peru and Uruguay.
“It’s an historic day for Bolivia and Paraguay, a time of friendship and peace, of solidarity between the peoples,” said Morales, the first to speak at the ceremony.
“The war between Paraguay and Bolivia was not provoked by its peoples, but rather pushed by transnational (companies) to control the natural resources,” he said before thanking Argentina for its mediation and the work of the technical experts on the mixed commission.
Lugo also called the accord a “transcendental step” for both nations and a reflection of a spirit of “pacification and brotherliness.”
The Paraguayan leader urged integration and referred to the sizable energy potential of the two countries.
“If this sincere undertaking of open borders becomes concrete, if that potential can be developed by both countries without any intervention of sovereignty, it will also serve to allow the brother peoples to be able to use it ... in their comprehensive development,” he said.
Fernandez, in turn, hailed the end of “a senseless confrontation” and added that the war “had the smell of petroleum” and served interests outside South America.
According to historians, control of the Northern Chaco, which is crossed by the Paraguay River, was a strategic objective for South America’s only two landlocked countries and the conflict was encouraged by foreign-owned oil firms in the belief that in that region there could be enormous hydrocarbon reserves.
The clash resulted in almost 100,000 deaths, most of them from malaria and lack of water. EFE