Stormy Waters? The Maritime Border Disputes between Bolivia, Chile and Peru

Map of the maritime claims of Ecuador, Peru, and surrounding countries. Source: Political Geography Now via Wikimedia Commons

International boundaries are often blurred by the processes of globalization, but in South America some maritime borders remain contested. For instance, Chile and Peru, neighbors that have enjoyed sustained economic development over the past few years, remain at odds over approximately 38,000 square kilometers of sea located along their maritime border.

Bilateral negotiations between the two countries were first held in 1980 but no agreement was reached. In 2008, Peru took the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in turn, considered the issue at a public hearing in December 2012. The ICJ is expected to make a ruling on the dispute in mid-2013.

In the meantime, Peru continues to argue that the maritime border has not yet been defined by any agreement, with documents signed in the 1950s only relating to access to fishing grounds.  Lima also claims that maritime limits should run diagonally south-west from the land border. » More

Combatting Cocaine Production in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru

Destroying coca plants in the lush mountains in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by Viewpress. Copyright Demotix (05/30/2012)

Destroying coca plants in the lush mountains in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by Viewpress. Copyright Demotix (05/30/2012)

The coca plant is native to the Andes. Its bush has been cultivated and traditionally consumed by local people for centuries. Many products and the leaves themselves can be legally purchased in Peru and Bolivia.

However, coca leaves are also the raw material for the production of cocaine. As a result, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia are the three largest illegal cocaine producing countries in the world.

According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2012 there was an overall decline in global production of cocaine between 2006 and 2010. This was in part due to the reduction of coca bush cultivation in Colombia. In spite of this, the report also underlines that in the same period coca bush cultivation and cocaine production actually increased in Bolivia and Peru. » More

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Is Bolivia’s Anti-US Rhetoric Harming its Diplomatic Relations?

Image from presidenciaecuador/Flickr.

Image from presidenciaecuador/Flickr.

In the last decade the balance of power has changed in South America. The US hegemony exerted in the second part of the 20th century has been challenged, primarily by the solid emergence of Brazil but also by political initiatives led by left-wing governments like Bolivia.

Despite its relatively small size the landlocked country at the heart of South America, has championed anti-US initiatives since 2006, when President Evo Morales, a left-wing indigenous leader and coca-growers’ unionist, was democratically elected. » More

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Development at What Cost? New Conflict Over Bolivia’s TIPNIS Road

TIPNIS march arrives in La Paz in October 2011. By Szymon Kochański on flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A proposed road project in Bolivia that plans to cross right through the middle of Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS) is once again generating conflict and protest. Indigenous organizations, TIPNIS inhabitants and their supporters began a new long march on April 27, 2012 from Trinidad to La Paz demanding an end to the road project.

Plans for the 306 kilometer road are the result of an $415 million agreement signed by the Presidents of Bolivia and Brazil in August 2009. The Brazilian company OAS was initially awarded a turnkey contract to build the road in 40 months with financing from the Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).

In October 2011, after a large march of indigenous peoples and protestors arrived in La Paz, President Evo Morales passed a bill declaring the TIPNIS “intangible” or “untouchable”, which was understood by environmental campaigners and indigenous organizations as the final word on the issue. » More

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Bolivia: A Serious Bid to Lift UN Ban on the Coca Leaf?

Coca leaves on a table at a coca-growers' meeting. Image by jusada/Flickr.

Demonstrations and public acts, led by both coca growers and traders, took place on Monday, March 12, 2012, in many cities in Bolivia demanding the international depenalisation of the coca leaf.

Local media informed [es] that 40 thousand people were due to join “coca-chewing day” [referred to in Bolivia as acullicu orpijcheo].

These public events are part of the Bolivian government’s international strategy for depenalising the coca leaf, and took place at the same time that President Evo Morales, himself a former coca grower and union leader, was addressing the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria three years after his last visit. » More

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