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9.25.2006

 

Brother, can you spare some coastline?


Vice Admiral José Alba Arnez, commander of the Bolivian Navy. Photo by Simon Romero.

The New York Times recently added a little color to the age-old story of the Bolivian Navy, who, since the late 1800s has been limited in its range of operations to the 12,500-foot high Lake Titicaca.
Read Bolivia Reaches for a Slice of the Coast That Got Away (until it gets archived).
Even before reading this article, I leaned toward the view expressed by many Bolivians -- that their umbilical cord to the sea was taken unjustly by Chile.

I could see if Bolivia had been left with even a few miles of usable coast. Then they would have been free to pariticpate in maritime trade, like most everyone else. Then any arguments today about the Chilean landgrab would be mostly academic and mostly fueled by wounded pride. But considering Bolivia's pathetic economic situation (it is the poorest country in South America, probably for many reasons, not just this) and the fact that Chile has around 4,000 miles of coast, it seems downright shitty (to use the diplomatic parlance) that Chile is only now condescending to consider Bolivia's plight.

But, hey, I live in the country that strongarmed vast tracts of land from Mexico in the 1800s and has never expressed any regrets. So, perhaps that was just the way they did business back then...

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