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News > Latin America

Bolivia Files Counterclaim Against Chile at ICJ Over Silala

  • President Evo Morales announces countersuit at ICJ during a press conference Friday.

    President Evo Morales announces countersuit at ICJ during a press conference Friday. | Photo: EFE

Published 31 August 2018

Bolivia is urging the ICJ to recognize Bolivian sovereignty over the Silala spring and its "artificial channels."

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced Friday that the country had filed a counterclaim and counter-memorial before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in the ongoing legal battle between Bolivia and Chile over the use of the waters of the Silala spring/river.

Bolivia and Chile: Rising Tensions Over Silala River's ICJ Case

“Today, in The Hague, our ambassador in the Netherlands, Doctor Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, agent before the ICJ presented before the secretariat of this tribunal Bolivia’s counter-memorial in the trial started by the Republic of Chile over the nature and the use of the waters of the Silala springs,” Morales said during a press conference.

The Bolivian president explained the counter-memorial is based on geological, geophysical, hydraulic, hydrological, and hydrochemical investigations in the zone of the Silala that prove that the majority of the flow of water from the Silala spring into Chilean territory is artificial and as a consequence of the canalization work done by Chile during the last century.

“Bolivia has sovereignty over the artificial flow of the Silala waters, which has been designed, improved or produced in its territory. Chile does not have rights over that artificial flow,” Morales asserted.

In 2016, Chile filed a lawsuit against Bolivia due to fears that its neighbor would cut the flow of water. Chile argues the Silala is an international river and claims rights over its use. Bolivia claims it is not an international river but a spring whose waters were diverted into Chile in the early 20th century.

Bolivia is urging the court to “declare Bolivia has sovereignty over the artificial channels and the drainage mechanisms in the Silala, which are in Bolivian territory.”

The two countries have another pending case in the ICJ liked to Bolivia’s demand for a sovereign exit to the Pacific Ocean, which they lost following the War of the Pacific in the 1880s.

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