The Bolivian Navy took delivery of two new armed patrol craft during anniversary celebrations to mark the establishment of its fourth naval district last year.
The Bolivian Navy took delivery of two new armed patrol craft during anniversary celebrations to mark the establishment of its fourth naval district last year. The new acquisitions brought the country's tiny navy to a total strength of 1,500 men, one transport ship and eighteen patrol boats.
Because Bolivia has been landlocked since it lost its coastal territories to Chile in the 1879-1883 Pacific War, its navy has only had inland Lake Titicaca on which to sail and train. But will acting President Rene Bernal and Commander of the Bolivian Navy, Xavier Pinto Telleria, were taking the salute at last week's celebrations the Bolivian President Hugo Banzer was at the United Nations putting his country's case for coastal access to the General Assembly.
With Bolivia emerging as a potentially wealthy country with vast oil, gas and iron are reserves its people are becoming increasingly aware and dissatisfied that the only means of exporting this wealth is from seaports in Chile and Peru. Since he came to power four years ago, President Banzer has been promising to solve his country's maritime isolation and his failure to do so is believed to be one of the reasons his political future is in jeopardy.
Chile is understood to favour allowing Bolivia a land corridor linking it to the coast, but Peru is adamant that no such favour will be granted. Chile is bound by a treaty signed with Peru in 1929 which stipulates that no Chilean territory formerly owned by Peru, can be ceded to a third party without Peruvian agreement. The suggested Bolivian land corridor would come under this agreement and Peru is holding Chile to its bargain.
But President Banzer is not giving up -- he realises not only his country's economic future, but also his own, depends on a satisfactory agreement, and he will be closely watching talks between the three countries' military high commands which start in Lima, Peru on Monday (13 October). It's the first time there has been a military summit between the three and the main object is to discuss a possible non-aggression pact.
Bolivia's tiny inland navy received a boost last week when it received another two patrol craft. The new additions brought the navy's total strength to fifteen hundred men, one transport ship and eighteen patrol boats. Because Bolivia lost its coastal territories to Chile nearly a hundred years ago and has been landlocked ever since, its mininavy can only sail on Lake Titicaca.
Last week's naval show was to mark the anniversary of the establishment of the navy's fourth naval district on Lake Titicaca.
Standing in for Bolivia's President Hugo Banzer was acting President Rene Bernal. President Banzer was out of the country visiting the United Nations.
To bid them God speed the new patrol boats were given the traditional maritime blessing by a local priest.
Although they're landlocked the men of the Bolivian Navy are ready to serve at sea, and with their country becoming increasingly wealthy from vast oil, gas and iron ore deposits their government must soon find a land corridor to the coast to enable the export of this wealth.