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Diplomacy Underground: Tunnel Proposed to Grant Bolivia Access to Sea

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-14-09 03:24 AM
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Diplomacy Underground: Tunnel Proposed to Grant Bolivia Access to Sea
Diplomacy Underground: Tunnel Proposed to Grant Bolivia Access to Sea
Written by Benjamin Dangl
Thursday, 14 May 2009

In the bloody War of the Pacific in 1879, Chile took away Bolivias only access to the sea. Over a century later, demands from Bolivia for the recuperation of this land are louder than ever. The most recently proposed solution to this diplomatic crisis seems to be straight out of a science fiction novel: the construction of 150 kilometer tunnel from Bolivia to an artificial island in the Pacific Ocean.

The tunnel, proposed by three Chilean architects, would allow for regular vehicle transport and include a gas duct to export gas; Bolivia is home extensive natural gas reserves.

Chiles foreign minister Mariano Fernndez told reporters that he considered the tunnel plan "an avant-garde proposal that will be interesting to hear about Its an important subject for Chile, very important for Bolivia and its not easy to find ways to solve all our problems from one day to the next..."

David Choquehuanca, the Bolivian foreign minister, said he will not comment on the proposal until it is officially presented by his Chilean counterpart. As President of Bolivia, Evo Morales has been a strong advocate for access to the sea, and in recent years has been in negotiations regarding the demand with Chilean President Michele Bachelet.

More:
http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1586/1 /
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-15-09 12:13 AM
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1. Fiancial Times: Architects plan tunnel to free landlocked Bolivia
Architects plan tunnel to free landlocked Bolivia
By Jude Webber in Buenos Aires and Naomi Mapstone in Lima

Published: May 15 2009 03:00 | Last updated: May 15 2009 03:00

Three Chilean architects say they have come up with a way to restore Bolivia's lamented access to the Pacific Ocean without treading on Chile's toes - a 150km tunnel running underneath the Peru-Chile border and ending at an artificial island built with waste from the tunnel about half a mile offshore.

Landlocked Bolivia has been lamenting the loss of its Pacific Ocean coast since a war with Chile 130 years ago and the issue remains fiercely contested today. As well as blocking diplomatic relations between the two nations, it is hampering the development of Pacific markets for Bolivia's natural gas and mineral wealth.

However, the Chilean architects say they have now come up with a way to restore Bolivia's maritime access without treading on Chile's toes.

"At first we thought it was a bit crazy but we think it can really be viable," one of the architects, Humberto Eliash, told the Financial Times. "I see this as a dream that is possible. It's not madness."

Mr Eliash began discussing the idea with Fernando Castillo Velasco and Carlos Martner, two of Chile's most respected architects, three years ago. Mariano Fernndez, Chilean foreign minister, says he wants to hear more about the "avant-garde" proposal and has invited the men to a meeting, although a date has yet to be set.

The tunnel would be one of the longest in the world, but Mr Eliash says it would be technically less demanding than the Channel tunnel linking England and France, as it would have only a short sub-sea stretch. Although Chile and Peru are highly seismic, he says tunnels have been successfully constructed in equally earthquake-prone Japan.

The main problem is political. Peru and Chile, which settled their land frontier in 1929, are still haggling about the maritime boundaries. Peru, which fought alongside Bolivia against Chile in 1879, is pressing a claim for a triangle of 38,000 sq km of Pacific waters at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, straining political relations with Chile.

Under the architects' proposal, the island - which, like the tunnel, would be Bolivian territory - would lie at the apex of the triangle. The waters in dispute would become international, no country would lose territory, and time and money would be saved dropping litigation.

In spite of losing its seafront in 1879, Bolivia maintains a navy of 170 vessels on Lake Titicaca, and Mr Eliash says Bolivia could put a port on the artificial island. He believes the tunnel could be built in a decade, eventually transporting cargo and passenger vehicles, a train and a pipeline for Bolivia's gas, potentially unlocking a lucrative Pacific trade route for one of South America's poorest nations.

More:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fbfe4d14-40e7-11de-8f18-00144...
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