Uruguay Offers Bolivia The Construction Of A Waterway That Would Give The Landlocked Country Access To The Atlantic

on December 10 2013 6:16 AM

Few remember it, but landlocked Bolivia used to have access to the Pacific ocean. The loss of their 400 kilometers (250 miles) of coast to Chile as a consequence of the War of Pacific in 1883 has been Bolivia’s largest regret throughout the 20th century. After a few timid attempts to negotiate an exit to the Pacific with neighbors Peru and Chile, Bolivia might finally get sea access again… but to the Atlantic.

Uruguay has suggested to Bolivia the construction of a waterway from the eastern border, crossing Paraguay through the river Paraná and reaching the Atlantic through the river La Plata. The Uruguayan ambassador in La Paz, Carlos Flanagan, announced that there will be an official visit from the Uruguayan minister for transportation, Enrique Pintado, to discuss the logistics with Bolivian authorities.

According to Flanagan, the Bolivian waterway is part of a larger project that includes a deep water front on the border of Uruguay and Brazil, which would allow for larger ships to reach the coast from inside the continent. “The goal of this project is to improve connections and help integration,” Flanagan told Uruguayan news agency ABI.

There is no planned date for the work to begin, but Flanagan claims it's one of Uruguay’s top priorities for 2014.

This offer is the closest Bolivia has been in the last century to get back its access to the sea. Not that the country hasn't tried: In April, President Evo Morales began a motion in the International Criminal Court in the Hague demanding that Chile revokes the historic decision and gives back the territory it took from Bolivia in the war. Chile, time and again, has rejected the demands, and several presidents have insisted that they will not return the land to Bolivia.

Peru has been more encouraging, even passing a bill in August that would grant Bolivia access to the Pacific ocean through Peruvian land. According to the plan, Bolivia would have rights to 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the Ilo beach in the south west of the country. There haven't been negotiations between the two countries since then. 

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