LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales told international reporters on Tuesday that he expects mediators such as the United Nations and Pope Francis to oversee adherence to the International Court of Justice’s ruling on his country’s suit against Chile to recover coastline lost in a 19th-century war.
“It would be so good if, after the ruling, certain mediators follow up (on the matter),” he said about the decision expected by yearend.
“Maybe Pope Francis, maybe other entities, figures. That’s what we’ve had in mind,” he said regarding a judgment he hopes will be favorable to landlocked Bolivia, adding that “a democratic country like Chile has the obligation to observe any resolution issued by the court.”
The ICJ agreed to hear the sea-access case in September 2015, rejecting Chile’s argument that the character of Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean had been settled by a 1904 treaty.
Bolivia lost 400 kilometers (250 miles) of coastline and 120,000 square kilometers (about 46,330 square miles) of territory to Chile as a consequence of its 1879-1880 participation in the War of the Pacific.
Morales on Tuesday said that “there was no war (in 1879), it was an invasion,” part of Chile’s plan to annex a swath of southern Bolivia extending to the border with Paraguay.
“Telling the truth is not aggression or provocation,” the Bolivian leader said.
The president said that he trusts that the resolution of the dispute will not be indefinitely delayed, as Bolivia and Chile “will forever be neighboring countries” who must seek a solution to the matter.
“We are brothers, we are neighbors and we can complement each other,” he said. “We need Chile and Chile surely needs us also.”
The ICJ is set to hear oral arguments in the case beginning March 19.