Bolivia's Morales accuses Chile of restricting access to ports

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday that Chile had restricted access to ports on its coast in violation of free passage treaties, in the latest flare-up of tensions between the traditional rivals.

“Hundreds of testimonies of affected Bolivian men and women - poorly treated and victims of recurring violations of their human rights - tell a story of racist and discriminatory practices,” Morales said in a speech to the council in Geneva.

Chilean authorities denied they had impeded transit by Bolivians to the ports.

Chile and Bolivia have long had thorny relations, starting with a war in the 19th century that left Bolivia landlocked. In recent years, the two nations have confronted each other in the U.N.’s highest court in The Hague, among other multilateral tribunals, with Bolivia demanding that Chile grant it coastal territory.

In May, Morales accused Chile of setting up a military base on the Bolivian border, which Chilean authorities also denied.

In June, Chile filed a lawsuit in The Hague regarding a dispute over the Silala River, which the two nations share, after Morales threatened to charge Chile for water rights.

Reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Paul Simao