“Bolivia Access to Sea,” Reality, Not Myths

Former Bolivia President, Carlos Mesa writes on behalf of Bolivia, regarding our claim of a sovereign seacoast that was taken by force, by Chile:

“Bolivia Access to Sea,” Reality, Not Myths

Carlos MesaOver 20% of the world’s countries lack seacoast. A finding that is one elementary truth, is that ALL the Mediterranean countries that import or export goods across the oceans, regardless of their major or minor comparative disadvantages, have access to the sea.

Contemporary legislation establishes sea conditions that facilitate the movement of goods to and from Mediterranean countries through neighbor countries with access to the oceans, which has nothing to do with the sovereign access to the sea enjoyed by coastal countries.

Of those countries, Bolivia is the only one that came to an independent life, began with sovereign access to the sea, which was usurped by Chile as a result of an unjust war.

Consequently, Bolivia has NO sovereign access to the sea. That mutilation robs Bolivia of being, as its share of historical and geographical reasons, part of the Pacific Rim as it is of the Amazon Basin and the Plata Basin. That alone represents today, in the XXI century, the biggest disadvantage to not be a part in their own right in the most important watershed in the world with regard to economic and commercial exchange.

What Chile gives to Bolivia are facilities that serve only as palliatives and can not be compared at all with a free and sovereign access to the sea.

In 1904, Bolivia and Chile signed a Treaty, where Chile was obliged to grant Bolivia free transit trade through its Pacific ports. Chile claims that it strictly complies. That is not true. Chile violated the free movement at two crucial moments in the history of Bolivia. They stopped in the middle of the Chaco War (1932-1935), the placement of weapons to Bolivia to Chilean ports. In 1952, they seized thousands of tonnes of Bolivian tin for export, at the mere desire of the mining magnate Simón I. Patiño. In 2004, Chile privatized ports of Arica [former Peru] and Antofagasta [former Bolivia], forcing Bolivia to face a contractual relationship with private concessionaires, violating the rights of Bolivia committed by the Treaty in an exclusive relationship between states. The free movement granted by Chile is not equivalent to having a sovereign access to the sea, even less when in practice that country [enforces] limits.

According to the existing conventions, only the Bolivian customs authority would have the power to control and supervise the Bolivian cargo once it arrives at the port. However, this freedom granted in favor of Bolivia is constantly limited by the Chilean authorities on Bolivian cargo, involved with discretionary controls, scanning and gauging match their criteria at their convenience. The costs of this Chilean intervention fall on Bolivian exporters and importers. Is charged for each container examined between $125 and $800 dollars.

Chile’s obligation towards the free storage for Bolivian cargo, is not a perk that is outside the Treaty of 1904.

In the case of the ports of Antofagasta and Iquique, gratuity Bolivian storage load is applied only to the part of the ports that administers the Chilean State and not in the part managed by private concessionaires. It should be noted that the fiscal side is not suitable for the type of transit cargo to and from Bolivia, forcing much of the burden to pay storage since the third day.

Chile affirms that Bolivia only pays $0.85 per ton of FIO cargo -less than Chile-but that are payable only to the use of pier, which means paying for the use of the infrastructure of the port, regardless of whether there are no other forms of preferential hiring.

Bolivia sees violated their right to free recruitment services to portage their cargo in transit, because Chile gives exclusively the operations of these ports to private companies in Arica without Bolivian recognition. Thus, the Bolivian state is prevented from choosing other operators that offer better rates and terms.

Chile unilaterally determines what load is considered dangerous, coming to make the payment on the entire container when only part of this is IMO load. It should be noted that the hazardous cargo, by its nature, is retirement or immediate shipment, consequently storage in port is unusual and any special rate for this item is of an exceptional application.

Chile restricts the right to use its ports as insists to enable far apart extra-port sites for consolidation and de-consolidation of Bolivian cargo, causing delays and increased costs for Bolivian entrepreneurs.

Restricted free access, full of Chilean breaches is certainly not equivalent to a sovereign access to the sea.


Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: