Old Rivalries Still Simmer Between Bolivia and Chile

Jul 24, 2017 | 11:54 GMT

The bitter rivalry between Chile and Bolivia has prevented movement on negotiations that would open up Bolivian exports through Chilean ports

CHUNGARA, CHILE: Chilean and Bolivian flags flutter alongside a minefield in Chungara, a border area between Chile and Bolivia, on July 21, 2005, during the official ceremony in front of the snowy Payachatas where Chile began demining its north-eastern border with Bolivia, in this area where for 30 years there are 2,200 anti-personnel and anti-tank explosives. The army will remove a total of 23,000 explosives that are scattered in about 980 km of border. AFP PHOTO / AIZAR RALDES (Photo credit should read AIZAR RALDES / AFP / Getty Images)


For centuries, relations between Bolivia and Chile have been marked by their dispute over territory. Bolivia's defeat by Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879-83) left the country landlocked, and resentment between the two countries has only grown since then. But there have been moments when tensions have ebbed. One came in the early 2000s, when a 13-point bilateral negotiation agenda was drawn up. It called for giving Bolivia sovereign access to a Chilean port to export natural gas to markets outside South America and for the construction of a railway connecting both countries. But the negotiations hit a snag in 2013 when Bolivia decided to take a territorial claim against Chile to the International Court of Justice, and the talks were put on hold....

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