SANTIAGO – The government of Chile sued Bolivia at the International Court of Justice, or ICJ, to resolve claims regarding sovereignty over the Silala River, located on the border between the countries, President Michelle Bachelet said Monday.
“We have decided to take the initiative” to get the Silala River declared an international waterway, the position Chile holds, Bachelet told Radio Cero.
Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz, for his part, said in a press conference that Chile filed the lawsuit with the ICJ in The Hague, a formal process that seeks to establish whether the river should be considered an international waterway or not.
“Chile cannot remain passive against the repeated conduct of the government of Bolivia in ignoring our rights and, therefore, we have sued to resolve the dispute,” Muñoz said.
The lawsuit asks the World Court to decide whether Bolivia has the obligation to “cooperate with Chile” and notify Santiago of any measures that could have an adverse effect its interests, the foreign minister said.
The suit seeks fair use of the Silala River and Chile will ask Bolivia to take the necessary measures to prevent pollution of the waters and inform Santiago of any actions that could have an impact on water resources or the environment, Muñoz said.
La Paz recognized the Silala River as an international waterway until 1997, when it changed positions and claimed the water came from springs in Bolivia, Chile said.
In 2009, the countries were close to an agreement on sharing the river, but Chilean officials say the deal fell through due to Bolivia’s refusal to accept the terms.
President Evo Morales said in March that Bolivia would file a new lawsuit against Chile for “the theft of the Silala” and announced a series of actions to stop the river from flowing into Chile.