LA PAZ – Bolivia’s President Evo Morales met on Wednesday with a group of former foreign ministers to prepare for the final phase of a sea-access case brought against Chile before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
Morales took part in the meeting at the presidential palace in La Paz along with his vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and current foreign minister, Fernando Huanacuni.
Also attending were a group of Bolivian former foreign ministers: Carlos Iturralde, Gustavo Fernandez, David Choquehuanca, Javier Murillo and Carlos Saavedra.
Justice Minister Hector Arce said the suggestions of the former top diplomats were very valuable and that the country was now as well prepared as possible to face the oral phase of the dispute in March, which he called the “most important stage of the proceedings.”
Bolivia and Chile are to begin making their oral arguments in the latter half of March, while the former is to make its closing argument on March 26 and the latter two days later.
During an event Monday celebrating his 12 years in power, Morales said it was important to heal this long-standing wound with Chile and not leave this dispute to be resolved by future generations.
Bolivia lost 400 kilometers (250 miles) of coastline and 120,000 sq. kilometers (46,330 sq. miles) of territory to Chile as a consequence of its 1879-1880 participation in the War of the Pacific, a conflict in which Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and wrested territory from its neighbors.
La Paz brought the case before the ICJ in 2013 in a bid to force Chile to negotiate a deal that would give it at least a portion of the Pacific coastline.
Chile says there is nothing to negotiate because the countries’ borders were established in a 1904 peace treaty.
In 2015, however, the World Court agreed with Bolivia that it had jurisdiction to hear the case.
The ICJ said then that Bolivia’s claims about Chile’s obligation to negotiate sovereign access to the Pacific were not addressed in the treaty.