History 101: The maritime lawsuit before the ICJ, a defeatist strategy

Nicómedes Sejas writes in El Diario:

The maritime lawsuit before the ICJ, a defeatist strategy

LitoralDr. Liborio Uño soon will present a new version of an important research with the title: “True maritime demand for Bolivia against Chile.” This 500-page book, documented in official texts of Chile and Bolivia and studies of renowned researchers, suggests the need to vindicate the occupied Bolivian Litoral, and conducive legal strategy for this purpose. The title of this article highlights the reivindicationist approach based on important corrections and additions to a very famous version of the issue: The total Bolivian land area occupied by Chile would reach 186,000 km2 and a coastline of over 500 km.

The central hypothesis of the research is that the current maritime lawsuit before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, does not reflect the objective conditions of the loss of our rich Litoral, it ignores the Chilean violations of treaties on the subject and little Bolivian diplomacy effort to raise a claim of legal strategy that occupied territory becomes our maritime claim in a defeatist resignation. It means nothing that not using all the resources of international law conforming with a small outlet to the Pacific before claiming the entire territory of the Coast occupied. Even in a worst-case scenario Bolivia in the plane of the law may sue a maritime territory to Chile to the ICJ with great chance of success without an exchange of territorial concessions.

The author is convinced that the plundering of Bolivian Litoral, in part, by the geopolitical Chilean strategy who conceived “the exchange of littoral” to cajole the Bolivian elite, achieving explained that business leaders and Bolivian politicians (Aniceto Arce, Mariano Baptista, Narciso Campero, and Heliodoro Camacho) end seconding that fictitious promise that Tacna and Arica would be handed to Bolivia in exchange for Litoral, provided a far-fetched Chilean-Bolivian alliance proposal against Peru.

An inevitable reference to the social structure of Bolivia and weaknesses, which eventually became the causes of the loss of the Coast, our author notes that during the XIX century and a good part of the twentieth century, the dominant feudal elite of Bolivia, which owns the country, which used the state to divest ownership of community lands, retained servility indigenous to exploit the free labor and imposed the Indian tribute as the main source of income Treasury also lacked full of a plan to defend the geopolitical interests of Bolivia against Chile. This elite ignored that already in 1842, a law of President Manuel Bulnes, in an act against the Bolivian nation, “declared national property the guano that exist in the coasts of Coquimbo, on the coast of the Atacama Desert, and the islands and adjacent islets”.

So the absence of an army of defense of the Bolivian territory was nothing more than the reflection of a state with feudal hegemony without awareness of national interests. The small existing Bolivian army had the main objective to defend the leaders of power and repress the indigenous movement that faced against the state to defend or recover their dispossessed communal lands.

According to our author, the demand for the occupied Litoral claim is based on 7 legal basis and 29 factual, among which include the following findings of fact; Chile occupied and the Littoral was annexed by a simple war of aggression without a declaration of war, which in the context of public international law is qualified and punished as a war crime, and that the agreements have not met in 1895 and 1896, by which Chile was to deliver to Bolivia Tacna and Arica in exchange of the Coast, this occupied territory must return to Bolivia’s sovereignty. These and other grounds of law and fact should be the basis of the demand for maritime claim of Bolivia, the same must be demonstrated before the ICJ, in order that this high court would rule applying existing international law.

The maritime claim raised in the aforementioned book deserves a broad-based comprehensive national, free debate of defeatism of traditional diplomats and protecting small group interests, to address more fully the solution of this centenary problem.

As is easy to see, this approach differs substantially from the current demand, which is essentially nothing more than a request to negotiate a maritime corridor, based on the old prejudice of the impossibility of trying to claim the occupied Bolivian Litoral. In his own words says: “The application and memory demand of Evo Morales, are a simple request to negotiate, so that the ICJ force Chile to cede some territory to Bolivia. MAS lawyers in their improvisations and political despair have ended by adopting the licensor maritime policy made by Mariano Melgarejo and Aniceto Arce”. The Hague’s post-stage, if negotiations were reached, and the current position of the Bolivian maritime diplomacy, would be entirely favorable to Chile, giving they would be giving away something they usurped, would get new territories from Bolivia.

The work mentioned also contains important corrections to the distortion of the facts of the Pacific war, betrayal of the traditional Bolivian elite, and discover before the national public opinion the defeatist attitude that our diplomats act against Chilean diplomacy.

In short, this book promises to enrich a serious debate on a strategy vindication of our occupied Litoral, in the spirit of its embattled defenders.


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