(Fixes typo in first paragraph from supports to support)
THE HAGUE, April 15 Bolivian President Evo
Morales personally handed over documents at the International
Court of Justice on Tuesday that support his country's claim
against Chile in an ongoing case that it hopes will win it back
the sea access it lost over a century ago.
Landlocked Bolivia - which still maintains a navy - took its
case to the Hague last year. It is seeking to force its neighbor
to give back a Pacific Ocean passage that it lost in an 1880s
war won by Chile.
"We trust that Bolivia will soon have sovereignty again in
the Pacific, the arguments are on our side," said Morales after
handing over the documents.
"The sea issue will never be given up by Bolivians. As a
peaceful country we have gone to international courts to ask for
justice over a historical claim and we are very confident."
Bolivia's hopes that it could get a favorable ruling in the
Hague increased in January when the international court reached
a compromise decision on a case brought against Chile by Peru,
awarding more than half of a disputed patch of ocean to Peru.
That case took six years.
Much of Bolivia's trade passes through Chilean ports thanks
to an agreement on the transit of goods, although the two
countries broke off diplomatic relations in 1978.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said last month that the
court case had closed the door on any hopes of a bilateral deal
and the government has repeatedly said it is confident that
Chile has the legal arguments on its side.
"We are very clear that we respect international
treaties...but we are going to first analyze the Bolivian case
in order to decide how we proceed," said Bachelet to local radio
shortly before Morales presented the documents.
Chile argues its border with Bolivia was fixed by a treaty
signed by the two countries in 1904. That treaty cost Bolivia
some 120 kilometers of coast and 120,000 square kilometers of
arid land where many of the world's top copper reserves are
Bolivia claims that Chile has violated the treaty a number
of times and has reneged on promises to give it a land corridor
with access to the Pacific.
(Reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz, Additional reporting by
Antonio de la Jara in Santiago, writing by Alejandro Lifschitz
and Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)