Morales says Bolivia to take Chile to court over water issue

Bolivian President Morales says that country will sue Chile in Hague over water dispute

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks in the commemoration of the "Dia del Mar" (Day of the Sea) in La Paz, March 23, 2016. The "Dia del Mar" refers to the day on which Bolivia lost its access to the sea to Chile during the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that his country has decided to file suit against Chile at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over a water dispute.

Bolivia argues it owns the Silala spring in its southwest department of Potosi and that it is not being compensated by Chile for use of its waters, which flow across their shared border.

Chile, however, argues that it is an international waterway.  

"We have decided as a pacifist country to go to The Hague so that Chile respects our water in Silala," Morales said at a public event.

Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz has said his country could file a counterclaim.

The move would mark the second legal action taken by Bolivia against Chile at the Netherlands-based court that oversees disputes between countries.

Last year, the ICJ agreed to take up another, century-old dispute between the two nations, in which La Paz seeks to regain former access to the Pacific Ocean.

Bolivia became landlocked after losing a four-year war against Chile at the end of the 19th century, forfeiting territory and its access to the sea.

After a number of fruitless negotiations with Santiago over the issue, La Paz lodged a complaint to the ICJ in April 2013.