Política 02-07-2017

Chile advances in The Hague on lawsuit against Bolivia for access to the border river

On Monday, The Chilean government filed a complaint against Bolivia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague for a dispute over the use of the waters of a border river in a new chapter of the diplomatic dispute between the neighbors.

President Michelle Bachelet received in Santiago a copy of the document in which Chile asks to be judged and declared that the Silala is an international river that Chile and Bolivia can use in an "equitable and reasonable" way.

"Bolivia cannot claim ownership of waters that are shared," Bachelet said in referring to the lawsuit that was initially filed on June 6 last year.

In the report, Chile maintains that the river has flowed for centuries towards Chilean territory, due to a natural slope and the force of gravity, which has allowed supplying water to the mining and the localities of the arid north of Chile.

The Bolivian president Evo Morales claims that the "springs" of the Silala belong exclusively to his country and does not recognize the character of an international river. On the other hand, Chile says that La Paz recognized for almost a hundred years this category for these waters and modified its position a few years ago.

The Morales government has a year to respond to the report that Chile is requesting, under a reasonable utilization standard, its current use of these waters and that Bolivia takes appropriate measures to prevent and control the pollution of the Silala.

The dispute for the Silala is added to another that both countries maintain in the international court by a possible obligation of Chile to negotiate a sovereign exit of Bolivia to the sea.

In 2013, Bolivia filed a lawsuit against Chile at the ICJ to gain sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, which it lost after a war in the 19th Century.