Bolivian lawmakers welcome Border Committee meeting with Chile

LA PAZ – Bolivian parliamentarians have welcomed the upcoming meeting of the Border Committee with Chile, to be held in Santa Cruz, and hope to achieve breakthroughs in resolving incidents along the line of demarcation.

The round-table discussion is the only way to resolve such conflicts, according to Senator of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) Nelida Sifuentes.

Bolivia to raise border isses with Chile

La Paz and Santiago have decided to resume meetings on border-related issues as a result of recent problems which increased tensions between both countries.

On July 7, two police officers were arrested in this nation for crossing seven kilometers in the national territory and, despite the tried to escape, local authorities ordered not to prosecute the case and send them back in less than 48 hours.

On contrary, nine Bolivians arrested by Chilean police officers on March 19 received a very different treatment. They were expelled from Chile after paying a $48,000 USD-fine and remaining over 100 days in Iquique penitentiary.

According to Bolivian authorities, these incidents carried out in neighboring areas must be diplomatically resolved, as established by international norms.

The July 25’s meeting, in Cuzco city, will be all-important since it will have the opportunity to debate on customs, migration and trafficking, MAS Deputy Javier Zabaleta stated.

Bolivia and Chile share a 900-kilometer border and it is estimated that 70 percent of the illegal merchandise entering this territory is stemming from the neighboring nation.

According to the Defense Minister, Reymi Ferreira, the meeting should emphasize the need to complement the action of the security forces in the crackdown on drug trafficking, smuggling and other transnational crimes.

The Border Committee, set up in 1998, is a two-way mechanism for facilitation, cooperation, integration and development, where control forces such as the police, customs and other departments of both nations interact.

The two countries do not have diplomatic relations and face up old disputes since Chile, in the 1879 war, snatched 400 kilometers of coast and 120,000 square kilometers of mineral-rich territories from Bolivia.