In 1879, the war over ocean access broke out between most of the newly independent countries of Latin America, however the war for the Pacific flourished between Peru, Chile and Bolivia.
Peru lost southern territory, but recaptured its capital, Lima (one of the Spanish’s main ports in Latin America during the colonization period), and kept much of its coastal territory. Chile, as seen by its geographic layout today, is a long thin strip along the coast. The conflict, lasting until about 1883, resulted in a Chilean victory and a land locked Bolivia.
With the results of the war, the denial of ocean access to Bolivia is arguably one of the main reasons why Bolivia has had one of the hardest times economically advancing and becoming integrated into the international trade system in comparison to other surrounding South American countries.
Today, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has broken the ice. The daring proposal made by Mujica has two parts. The first being, Bolivia must be given access to the ocean in someway. He mentions, if not by affirming a project on their own, to work with the Uruguayan government to establish a port on the coast of Uruguay.
Secondly, and most interestingly, Mujica stated that Bolivia must look to Mercosur for help. Mercosur is the sub-regional bloc comprised of: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Mercosur also has associates such as Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
In Mujica’s statement, he represented the rise of South America as a region; as more than a place which could be merely influenced and controlled. In promoting the integration and collaboration between South American countries, Mujica enforced the importance of effectiveness in Mercosur. Mujica said member and associate countries should turn to Mercosur for large scale reforms instead of looking upon the actions the United States or European Union.
With the emergence of Mercosur, South America will have the opportunity to slowly evolve its own regional micromanaging system for collaboration between neighbor countries to further the development and growth of the region. This development will also be based in the region’s best interests, rather than being influence by countries with other agendas.
Mujica called on Bolivian authorities to contemplate and work on creating a project on the Uruguayan coast, all of this almost seeming too good to be true.
“Los latinoamericanos nos miramos entre nosotros. Antes nos dedicábamos a mirar a Europa o a Estados Unidos. Hemos logrado acuerdos entre presidentes de lo más diferentes. Ya no tenemos fanatismos, porque ya no es tiempo para las verdades absolutas”, dijo Mujica, segun Russia Today.