Bolivia asked visiting Oscar-winner Sean Penn Tuesday to help lobby for La Paz to regain a bit of Pacific coast, and escape the ranks of landlocked states. Evo Morales, the populist president of the arid nation high in the Andes, asked the US actor to help its campaign to press Chile to overhaul treaties that ended a 19th-century war that cost Bolivia its coast and gave the land to Chile.
Being landlocked makes trade and transport difficult for Bolivia, already South America's poorest nation.
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Penn, known for his friendship with Morales ally President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, was a militant for noble causes.
The diplomat urged Penn to be an interlocutor with people involved in international politics to... help bring our demand, our proposal for a return to the sea to different venues.
It was Penn's second visit to Bolivia this year.
Penn is already a goodwill ambassador for Haiti, where he has won respect for his post-earthquake charity work. Asked by reporters about the missions he’d been asked to assume, Penn answered curtly.
“I am ambassador of Haiti” said Penn who later showed up for the start of a soccer match with Morales.
The United States and Bolivia have strained ties, and since 2008 have not had ambassadors in their respective capitals after La Paz accused Washington of meddling in its domestic politics.