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Landlocked Bolivia Yearns for Outlet to Ocean
Bolivian Ambassador Marks "Dia del Mar" in Seoul
Bolivian Ambassador to Seoul Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada (right) sits with Angola Ambassador Albino Malungo (to her left) and wth othe guests at "Dia del Mar" event held at her embassy in Seoul on March 23, 2016.

Bolivia's "Dia del Mar (Day of the Sea)" celebration was held at Embassy of Bolivia in Seoul on March 23 (Wednesday), 2016.

Bolivian Ambassador to Seoul Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada invited scores of top foreign envoys and local media personalities as well as Bolivian residents in South Korea to observe its "Day of the Sea."

Among the top foreign envoys invited were Ambassador Oscar Herrera Gilbert of Ecuador, Ambassador Raul Silvero of Paraguay, and Ambassador Albino Malungo of Angola.

During the "Day of the Sea" event the Bolivian envoy introduced to the audience the “Book of the Sea,” now translated into Korean lanauage, and soon to be didstributed to the Korean authorities and interested scholars.

Bolivia Ambassador to S. Korea Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada
The envoy explained that this book was elaborated in 2014 in the framework of the Bolivian claim to the International Court of Justice to solve, in a legal way, the dispute with Chile regarding the Bolivian sovereign access to the sea, which was introduced in 2013.

On Sept. 24, 2015, the Court declared to have jurisdiction to meet the Bolivian maritime demand, so that the legal process continues at the next step.

According to the envoy, this event was also an appropriated occasion for a nongovernmental organization called “International Strategic Center” to address a letter to the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, H.E. Evo Morales Ayma, expressing its solidarity with the Bolivian Claim and its wishes for a prompt solution to this pendant issue.

In that unfair war in 1879 Bolivia lost 120,000 sq. kilometers including 400 kilometers of its seashore.

Around the end of "Day of the Sea" event in Seoul a Bolivian student of international relations, Ms. Vania Huanca, read a letter representing the Bolivian community in South Korea, in her efforts to support the Bolivian position on this issue.

Bolivia's "Dia del Mar (Day of the Sea)" commemorates the first battle of the War of the Pacific, known as the "Battle of Topáter," which occurred on March 23, 1879. The War of the Pacific was fought between Chile and allied Peru and Bolivia for five years. Chile won the war and Bolivia lost its outlet to the sea, becoming a landlocked country.

Why is the "Day of the Sea" so meaningful to Bolivia and its people?

Before the war in 1879 Bolivia used to have outlet to the Pacific Ocean. But the country lost it during the war, becoming a country without a sea. In the wake of the war, the final peace treaty was signed in 1904.

During the war the Bolivian troops tried to defend the town of Calama. But they were defeated by the allied forces of Chilean and Peruvian armies.

At the height of the war the national hero of Bolivia, Col. Eduardo Abaroa was was killed in a battle.

However, Bolivia still maintains its naval force of 5,000 personnel. The Bolivian Navy has a total of 173 vessels mostly stationed on Lake Titicaca 3,800 meters above sea level in the Andes.

Bolivia has large rivers, major tributaries to the Amazon. The Bolivian Navy ships are patrolling the lake and rivers to prevent smuggling and drug trafficking.

The country has not reconciled with the lost of its Pacific coast and the existence of the Navy symbolized the hope of regaining its coastal territory.

Day of the Sea is commemorated by solemn ceremonies throughout Bolivia. On the Day of Sea flowers are laid at the statue of the late Col. Eduardo Abaroa.

On this day every year the Bolivian Navy participates in a number of parades and government functions, asking for the coastal territories they lost to Chile during the war some 130 years back.

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