La Plaza

News from Latin America and the Caribbean

« Previous Post | La Plaza Home | Next Post »

Landlocked Bolivia to get gateway to sea in Peru

October 26, 2010 |  1:46 pm

Evo morales and alan garcia

Peru has decided to give Bolivia access to a Pacific port, allowing its landlocked Andean neighbor a stretch of coastline for the first time in more than 120 years.

Peruvian President Alan García and his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, signed an accord last week in the Peruvian port of Ilo that will allow Bolivia eventually to build its own small dock on a parcel of coastline that's 1.38 square miles. Bolivia, landlocked but still operating a navy, lost its Pacific coastline to Chile during the War of the Pacific, in which Chile fought both Peru and Bolivia from 1879 to 1884.

The war is still considered a sore spot in Bolivia, the result often blamed for some of the country's economic troubles. With a strip of sea, Bolivia could open itself more to global trade and markets, as it currently requires an OK from either Peru or Chile to move its exports across land.

Trade between Bolivia and Asian markets is expected to see a boost, a trade news agency said, but the governments did not provide details on when a Bolivian port at Ilo might be completed. García welcomed Morales to Ilo on Oct. 19 for the signing of the pact, which was first agreed upon in 1992 but never implemented.

"It is unjust that Bolivia has no sovereign outlet to the ocean," García said, according to reports. "This is also a Bolivian sea."

The Ilo agreement signals a warming of relations between García and Morales, who often have traded barbs, and a diplomatic jab at Chile, a country still distrusted in Bolivia. The news was not met with cheers in Chile, reports Los Tiempos (link in Spanish).

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Bolivian President Evo Morales and Peruvian President Alan García in Ilo, Peru, October 19, 2010. Credit: Los Tiempos