The 23rd of March is an important day for Bolivia.
Día del Mar (Day of the Sea) sees Bolivians all over the country take part in official parades. A commemoration of the day Bolivia lost their access to the Pacific Ocean, it is a day of high emotions and strong patriotism.
In 1879, war broke out between Bolivia and Chile. The Chileans came out victorious, taking the southwestern corner of Bolivia and, subsequently, the country’s access to the Pacific Ocean. With no access to the sea for trade and the loss of land rich in copper and nitrate, the defeat still haunts Bolivia to this day.
White-clad Navy members, khaki-adorned military officers, suited-up government officials and youths bearing the Bolivian flag, the Wiphala and the special “Day of the Sea flag” parade through the streets of La Paz. Plaza Abaroa in Sopocachi proves a main spot for watching the parade, as important members of the government watch from an elevated position inside the square itself.
Dialogue is ongoing between the two countries as Bolivia attempts to claim back their access to the Pacific. In 2015 – TeleSur reports – the International Court of Justice came to the verdict that Bolivia could continue their attempt to reclaim the sea due to apparent faults in the original treaty.
The ruling of The Court of Justice, enabling the continuation of negotiations, signals hope for the Bolivian people. President Evo Morales expressed his optimism in a recent speech – Página Siete reports. During the event held in commemoration of the founding of Bolivia, the President stated that “I am very hopeful, I am certain that we are going to win the battle so that Bolivia returns to the Pacific with sovereignty.”
The optimism seems to be shared by many involved in “The Day of the Sea” celebrations as banners, model boats and flags are held proudly, with left hands clenched into fists and raised aloft. Bystanders look on respectfully, taking photos and shouting out to friends marching past.
During the morning of March 23, #MarParaBolivia (SeaForBolivia) was trending as the most used hashtag in Bolivia. This signifies a victory for the Ministry of Communication who earlier called for a “tweeting marathon” the morning of the event – El Deber reports. Solidarity is being shown online too, it seems.
Bolivia lost the sea over 130 years ago but the fight to claim it back will not be ending anytime soon.