As anticipated in the opening speech of the 42 OAS General Assembly hosted by landlocked Bolivia, President Evo Morales put on the discussion table his country’ aspiration for an outlet to the Pacific Ocean linking it to Argentina’s sovereignty dispute with the UK over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.
“If the Malvinas are for Argentina, then the sea outlet is for Bolivia”, said the Bolivian president at the opening on Sunday in Cochabamba of the Organization of American States annual general assembly which brings together all country members Foreign Affairs ministers. His comments followed on his long exposition outlining the history of OAS and the Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty, TIAR, which he said “are not functioning”.
“If there had really been a TIAR agreement we would all be behind Argentina so that Malvinas are effectively, (as will eventually happen), returned to Argentina. All those present here today, and the whole world, knows that there are countries who oppose this position”, said Morales, and paused for a few minutes as people in the special area for visitors cheered in support.
President Morales then said that “obviously if it works out Malvinas for Argentina and the sea for Bolivia, we will be most grateful. Bolivia was born to independence in 1825 with a sea outlet to the Pacific, and the Bolivian people never gave up that claim and will never give up such a sovereignty claim”.
The country’s first indigenous president then thanked all the Latin American social leaders and from the world, for their support for Bolivia on the issue and recalled that when visiting Chile a few years ago after his election, the people received him in a Santiago stadium cheering “sea for Bolivia and freedom for the (indigenous) Mapuche warriors fighting for their rights”.
“Wars and invasions do not generate rights: this is a universal principle, therefore if we are in a stage of integration and development, this historic problem must be solved”, underlined Morales.
Another issue to which Morales referred was the role of the Inter American Human Rights Commission, which he criticized for intervening in member countries domestic affairs, “but does not intervene or apply the same rules and standards for the US in human rights issues”.
“Which are the human rights that concern the CIDH? Only in those countries where the president does not share the US government policies, why don’t they also look into human rights in the US? It is a very important question to assess these instruments that boil down to elements of dominance and subjugation”, said Morales.
He closed his speech saying that the OAS needs a re-foundation process, and from now on “this organization has only two possible paths: it dies at the service of the (US) empire or is reborn to serve the peoples of the Americas”.
It must be said that Bolivia lost its sea outlet as a consequence of the 1879 Pacific war, when together with Peru they tried to snatch by force Chilean northern territories. Following the surprise Chile reacted and is a quick campaign defeated the armies of the two countries and even occupied Lima for a couple of years. Chile finally left but incorporated the most southern province of Peru and the Bolivian sea outlet.
The CIDH debate stems from the fact that proposals to review current legislation, which has ample support among members states, also clash with that of countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
The OAS 42nd General Assembly meets in Cochabamba under he theme “Food security with sovereignty” and will last until next June 5.