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News > Bolivia

Bolivia Marks 142 Years of Being Deprived of Access To the Sea

  • Day of the Sea commemoration, La Paz, Bolivia, March 22, 2021.

    Day of the Sea commemoration, La Paz, Bolivia, March 22, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @LaramaDavid

Published 23 March 2021

This Andean country lost 400 kilometers of coastline and about 120,000 square kilometers of territory after a war initiated by Chile in 1879.

Bolivia's President Luis Arce on Monday presided over the "Day of the Sea" to mark 142 years of the loss of his country's Pacific coastline to Chile.


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The activities began with the transfer of the remains of Eduardo Abaroa, a national hero who led the civil resistance in the Topater battle during the Pacific War (1879-1884).

The funeral procession was escorted by the Bolivian Armed Forces and the National Guard from the San Francisco basilica to a square named after him in the Sopocachi neighborhood located in La Paz.

"Abaroa's legacy drives us to never give up in our historic struggle to obtain a sovereign outlet to the sea. Only in this way we will honor his memory and close the wounds caused by the unjust Pacific war," Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo said.

In 1825, Bolivia gained independence from Spain with a 400-kilometer coastline on the Pacific Ocean; however, Chile invaded and occupied the Bolivian Litoral in 1879.

Inhabitants in the Calama city barricaded themselves to repel the attack. After being wounded, Abaroa tried to defend his position and managed to stop Chilean soldiers' advance until he ran out of ammunition.

Bolivia's ex-President Evo Morales (2006-2019) presented a claim before the International Court of Justice in 2013 to force Chile to negotiate in good faith for sovereign access to the Pacific. 

Although the Court ruled that Chile had no legal obligation to negotiate with Bolivia over a sovereign outlet to the ocean, Bolivian authorities sustained that the ruling is not an impediment for both countries to dialogue over the issue.

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