It was good news for Bolivia on Thursday as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based in the Hague, the Netherlands, ruled in favor of hearing the long-disputed sea access case between Chile: 14 votes to two.
During the nineteenth-century War of the Pacific, the Andean nation lost access to 400 kilometers of coastline, leaving the country landlocked. Finally in 2013, Bolivia asked the ICJ to order neighboring Chile to negotiate its sea access claim.
According to a survey, around 86 percent of Chileans reject Bolivia’s sea access claims, while 49 percent believe that the country shouldn’t gain access to be able to export products.
For Bolivian President Evo Morales’, and Twitter campaigners under the hashtag #MarParaBolivia, the ruling was a glimmer of hope.
“It’s a historic day, it will be unforgettable for Bolivians, it is important that we get back the Pacific Ocean.” he commented.
Twitter users reacted to the ICJ ruling:
La guerra y la muerte nos separó, el amor y el diálogo nos unirá como latino América #MarParaBolivia
— Pablo Selles (@pgselles) September 24, 2015
“War and death separated us, love and dialogues will unite us and Latin America.” One user tweeted in support.
— Fernando Salgado (@fheer_gladiador) September 24, 2015
“Sea access for Bolivia and gas for Chile! That’s how it should be right? If what the Hague has ruled can be defined in bilateral relations, I think that’s best.” Another user tweeted.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was quick to react to the news adding, “Bolivia hasn’t won anything.”
“The ruling does not affect the territorial integrity of Chile.” She commented.
Without dampening Bolivian optimism, the lengthy legal process which will ensue in the U.N. court could take years to resolve.
Furthermore, Chile ascertains that the differences over sea access were resolved between the two countries in the 1904 Peace Treaty, adding that Bolivians have had access to port customs in both Arica and Antofagasta to export goods at a cost of just over $100.
But for analyst Gabriel Puricelli from Argentina’s from thinktank the Public Policies Laboratory (LPP) the ICJ announcement represents a “diplomatic victory” for Bolivia.
“If Latin American integration was indeed as advanced as its countries’ leaders ascertain, the Hague wouldn’t need to be involved to resolve this dispute.” Puricelli told BBC Mundo.
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