It is now one hundred years since Bolivia lost its coastal territories to Chile in the War of the Pacific.
It is now one hundred years since Bolivia lost its coastal territories to Chile in the War of the Pacific. In recent years successive Bolivian governments have tried unsuccessfully to regain access to the Pacific.
SYNOPSIS: Thousands of Bolivians took to the streets on Friday (23 March) to Commemorate the Day of the Sea anniversary. Despite the ceremony it marks a sombre event in Bolivia's tumultuous history. One hundred years ago the country lost access to vital sea ports on the Pacific...a loss which has weighed heavily on economic and political stability.
Even now the country faces another possible change of leadership in June, when four former Bolivian Presidents challenge the Presidency. But events remembered in this anniversary affect all sections of the population, with the business community most anxious that access to the Pacific, be restored.
All hopes for achieving access to a Pacific port for land-locked Bolivia rest on a promise made by neighbouring Chile almost five years ago. At that time the head of Chile's military junta promised to resolve what he called promised to resolve what he called "the fundamental problems between Chile and Bolivia."
But any agreement for a land corridor linking Bolivia with the coast ultimately depends on the Peruvian government's approval, should be corridor run through any territory which was Peruvian before the Pacific war. Now Chile says it's anxious for economic exchanges with Bolivia. But in the past that has meant massive imports to Bolivia of goods purchased by Chile through foreign trade. Negotiations between the three countries have been spasmodic.
In recent years many Bolivian governments have staked their credibility on resolving the Pacific port issue. Current President David Padilla acknowledges its importance, and says he will continue negotiations with Chile and Peru to eventually open a link between Bolivia and the Pacific.