The Dispute Between Chile and Bolivia: Michelle Bachelet and Isabel Allende Undermine Latin American Integration


Carlos Aznárez
It is very easy to speak at forums and summits about Latin American integration but those principles don’t seem to transfer well when put to the practice of everyday life.
There could be no greater proof of this than what is going on with the current government of Chile. The very government that the Chilean “left” insisted had to be elected to prevent, as that worn out phrase repeats, “the need to stop the right”. We have heard this rationale time and time again in other Latin American countries but this time it has given the government of Michelle Bachelet the green light to put Chile in the dramatic fix it finds itself in.

It is with absolute logic that neighboring Bolivia has been demanding a route to the sea for a 136 years. It is worth remembering that this situation is not new and between 1879 to 1883 it came to a war between Chile, Peru and Bolivia that ended with Bolivia losing 400 kilometers of its rightful coastline on the Pacific.
Currently Bolivia is not even asking to take back that lost territory that could cause a massive displacement of the population there. No, what Bolivia is asking for is gaining access to a very small portion of unpopulated area on the coast so they could have access to the sea and to recuperate a small area taken away from them during that military conflict. Meanwhile the Chilean social democrats have shamefully joined the right to say this would have a serious effect on the economy of Chile. It was only the government of Salvador Allende that tried to fix the problem but was not able to do it because those in power in Chile before had slammed the door shut on any resolution of this serious problem.

Bachelet is not alone in that extreme position against actual Latin America integration. It is words she often repeats but in practicality follows the advice of functionaries such as her current agent in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Felipe Bulnes who is the former minister of the right wing government of Sebastián Piñera and an active member of the fascist National Renovation Party. The political background of Bulnes was always anti-Allende, one linked to anti-communism and he is now in The Hague trying to deny Bolivia its sovereign right.
The position of Bolivia couldn’t be clearer. Through their representatives in The Hague Bolivia has explained that it has always honored international treaties, like the “Treaty of Peace and Friendship” of 1904 that included a series of clauses that was to help with the issue of the lack of access to the sea. In part of that treaty Chile committed to build a railroad between Arica and La Paz, to issue credit, allow the right of free passage to the Pacific Ports and the payment of 300 thousands pound sterling in compensation. All that ended in nothing and Bolivia once again is having to raise its rights.

And Bachelet, a so called “socialist”, continues to deny Bolivia just like during Pinochet who tortured her own father. Bachelet even goes so far as to say that, “Chile will not give up its legitimate territory and Bolivia has to accept what is decided at The Hague”.
This argument is a complete rupture with all currents and thoughts of fraternity and Latin America integration that was re-introduced by that giant of unity of the peoples Hugo Chávez. On several occasions he said that his biggest wish was that “sooner rather than later he could swim in the Bolivian Sea”. These are also the demands of the majority of the popular and revolutionary Chilean left that on several occasions has welcomed Evo Morales as a blood brother and continues to mobilize to make a reality of the demand from Bolivia.

While this dispute has become an issue of international importance Bachelet continues to lose popularity inside and outside Chile. As Morales recently mentioned, she continues to "clutch to a Constitution inherited from Pinochet". She has ignored the demand for free education coming from Chilean students and has also ignored the territorial demands of the Mapuche people, whose leaders are imprisoned and in many cases have been assassinated. Her foreign policy shows contempt for Bolivia, and this is in and of itself is enough to understand why she is supporting the U.S. Pacific Alliance.
And as if this were not bad enough to define just how far the Socialist Party of Bachelet has gone astray the very daughter of Salvador Allende has also joined in this shameless offense of the memory of what her father stood for. Isabel Allende has stooped even further than denying Bolivia but to visit in Caracas the wives of the imprisoned right wing coup organizers Mayor Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez. She was not satisfied with this disrespect to the people of Venezuela but took it further by the calling the government of Nicolas Maduro a dictatorship.

With these spokes people defending the so called interests of Chile in The Hague it would be very healthy for the authentic socialist movement in Chile to reject this sustained rightward drift of the leadership with a militant struggle or to massively abandon their party altogether.
Republished from Resumen Latinoamericano

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