November 10, 2006

Bolivia - Chile Relations

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On the rocky Bolivia-Chile relations of late has been observed a shy turn-around. The two countries have taken carefully planned small steps towards rapprochement. It all started with Evo Morales' visit to Michelle Bachelet's inauguration. The favor was returned by Bachelet coming to Morales' inauguration. Since then there have been elastic exchanges between the two governments. The insistence by Bolivia to include the sea access issue in any talks has been the highest hurdle to pass. However, since Morales abandoned Mesa's approach of "gas for sea", things have been softer. Lately, the head of the Chilean Military visited Bolivia, showing thus an even closer approach.

In this thorned relation, there are two issues demanding the most attention because they are the most delicate. The first issue is the age old Bolivian demand to sea access. This issue has been, as you well know, the cause Bolivia and Chile haven't had formal diplomatic relations in a long time. The other issue is the Silala stream. The Silala is a stream originating in Bolivia which runs to Chile via a channel constructed by the rail company, Ferrocarril Antofagasta, to supply it with water. Bolivia wants compensation for the use of its waters by Chilean companies. These two issues are the most difficult to solve, and are the two huge stones blocking cooperation among the two countries.

Following you can find the new agenda between the two countries:

  1. Desarrollo de confianza (Trust development)
  2. Integración fronteriza (Border integration)
  3. Libre tránsito (Free transit)
  4. Integración física (Physical integration)
  5. Complementación económica (Economic cooperation)
  6. Tema marítimo (Maritime issue)
  7. El Silala y recursos hídricos (The Silala issue and water resources)
  8. Instrumentos de lucha contra la pobreza (Fight against poverty)
  9. Seguridad y Defensa (Security and defense)
  10. Cooperación para el control del tráfico ilícito de drogas y químicos (Cooperation on drug trafficking)
  11. Educación, ciencia y tecnología (Education, science and technology)
  12. Cultura (Culture)
  13. Otros temas (en este punto ingresó el tema energético) (Other- possibly energy)