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Bolivia president demands return of Chile coastline

[JURIST] Bolivian President Evo Morales [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice [official website] laying claim to a 240-mile area in Chile that provides access to the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia reportedly lost its claim of ownership [AP report] to the land during a war with Chile in the 1800s. Chile alleges a treaty has already resolved the dispute. Bolivia's demand for coastline's return has been the source of political disagreement between the two nations since the late 1970s.

In January the ICJ established a new maritime boundary [JURIST report] between Peru and Chile. The ICJ granted [press release, PDF] Peru some parts of the Pacific Ocean formerly controlled by Chile but left Chile prosperous coastal fishing grounds. The decision ended disputes over the 14,670 square miles of abundant fishing waterways. Peru had wanted the maritime board to extend perpendicularly from where the land borders of the two countries meet the ocean, while Chile wanted the border to run parallel to the equator. The ICJ's decision represented a compromise by extending the border parallel to the equator for 80 nautical miles from the coastline and then continuing the border out to the southwest.

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