Are Bolivia and Chile close to reestablishing diplomatic relations?
One of the points that former Bolivian consul to Chile Roberto Finot forgot was that negotiations between Bolivia and Chile over reestablishing diplomatic relations are done behind closed doors.
Finot said that both countries are “very close” to reestablishing diplomatic ties after they were severed in 1978 by Bolivia.
The former consul, who was replaced by Ferddy Torrico, not only said that both countries were moving closer on ties but that Santiago and La Paz are negotiating over granting Bolivia a corridor to the Pacific Ocean.
According to Finot, Peru doesn’t object like in 1978 Chile granting Bolivia land that it ceded after the War of the Pacific (1878-84).
Chile, which is suffering from ever-worse gas shortages from Argentina since 2004 and imports 72% of the energy it consumes, has been moving closer since the presidency of Ricardo Lagos (2000-06) in reestablishing diplomatic relations with gas-rich Bolivia.
A positive sign that relations are warming between both countries was a visit June 30 to La Paz by Chilean Minister of Energy Marcelo Tokman and Enap President Enrique Davila to their Bolivian counterparts Carlos Villegas and Guillermo Aruquipa.
Some analysts believe that opening diplomatic relations between both countries would be the first crucial step in permitting Bolivia to sell gas to the mining-rich region of northern Chile.
Bolivia’s long-awaited moment to have an outlet to the sea could come sooner than later.
The biggest challenge for Michelle Bachelet’s government is not to appear too desperate for Bolivian gas in exchange for an outlet to the sea. If Bolivia is successful, President Evo Morales will become a national hero.