Chile Open to Tunnel Proposal Giving Bolivia Access to Sea
May 15, 2009 - Latin American Herald Tribune

SANTIAGO – The Chilean government is willing to study the proposal by a group of architects that would provide landlocked Bolivia with access to the sea through a tunnel to an artificial island in the Pacific Ocean.

“This government is open to all suggestions and ideas that signify progress for Latin American integration,” Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said Monday at a press conference.

The proposal is the work of architects Humberto Eliash, Carlos Martner and Fernando Castillo Velasco, who worked up plans for a structure that would go underneath the so-called Line of Concord and would open on a Bolivian island in a trinational sea.

The island would be located in a Chilean maritime area that Peru claims for itself and for which it filed suit against Chile in March at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“I’ve sent word to Fernando Castillo to come and talk and explain the idea to us; it’s an avant-garde proposal that will be interesting to hear about,” the Chilean foreign minister said.

Regarding the construction of an artificial island off the Chilean coast, the minister admitted that “there are political considerations tied into such subjects” and asked for “no prejudging.”

“At this point, I want to listen, to see the project and to talk,” Fernandez said, adding that “there are other ideas about matters related to our relations with Bolivia” and specifically about its ambition to have access to the sea.

Bolivia lost all of its Pacific coastline to Chile in a 19th-century conflict that also involved Peru.

Fernandez said that Santiago and La Paz are working systematically, a reference to the 13-point agenda agreed upon by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales.

“It’s an important subject for Chile, very important for Bolivia and it’s not easy to find ways to solve all our problems from one day to the next...we want a more active integration process, because Bolivia is an important actor on this continent,” the Chilean foreign minister said.

Fernandez said that in the second quarter of this year, Latin American integration will take an important step forward when the presidents of Brazil, Chile and Bolivia inaugurate the bioceanic corridor, which will go from the Brazilian Amazon to the Chilean port of Arica through Bolivian territory. EFE