‘Tis the Season for Latin American Border Disputes

Chile Peru maritime

Map via menas borders


First, we had the backlash from the UN International Court of Justice ruling a few weeks ago between Nicaragua and Colombia, which granted the former more maritime territory (and therefore access to fishing grounds and possible oil deposits), leading to Colombia’s withdrawal from the ICJ.

Now it’s time for Chile and Peru to go to the Hague, to finally resolve a decade long maritime boundary dispute over a 37,900 square km triangle of the Pacific Ocean and coastline. Both countries are experiencing a wave of rabid nationalist rage over this dispute, and while the presidents of both countries urge calm, in Chile the situation has already lead to photo ops in support of their claim by four former Chilean Presidents.  Peru wasn’t happy.

While this situation flares up regularly from time to time, both sides claim they will respect the ICJ’s decision.

That might change however, as Bolivia threatens to make its own claim on what was once Bolivia’s coast after this one is resolved.

Bolivia has also said it will send a delegation to the court and plans a lawsuit to try to reclaim its ocean access from Chile.

Bolivia lost the Atacama corridor to the sea in the War of the Pacific, where Chile defeated both Bolivia and Peru and expanded their coastline.  While Chile has granted Bolivia use of Chilean territory to transport merchandise, they have so far refused to give Bolivia back access to the ocean.

While there’s almost no chance anyone is going to war over any of this, expect a lot more shouting until a decision is reached at some point in 2013.

Documents related to the Chile-Peru dispute can be found at the ICJ Website.


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