Ali Dashti/The Santiago Times Staff
LA PAZ – Bolivia has denounced the ongoing war games between the Chilean and the U.S. forces in the deserts of the north Chile close to the Antofagasta port city.
Evo Morales has described the military maneuvers as an “imperialistic threat to the regional peace”. “U.S. troops in Latin America don’t guarantee neither dignity nor the sovereignty. We are living in moments when the nations want to liberate not to subordinate themselves to empires”, the Bolivian president condemned in his tweet on Sunday.
His comments are a reference to the ninth round of the “Southern Star 2018” war games in which 1.103 Chilean and U.S. armed forces as well as troops from countries such as Brazil, Colombia, México, Paraguay, Spain and the U.K. are taking part, according to the Chilean media.
Morales’ reactions has been met with responses from Santiago. The Chilean Defence Minister Alberto Espina Otero has tried to calm down La Paz’ nerves, describing the exercises on his Twitter handle as a demonstration of the “high level and capability of our armed forces in assuring the peace and acting in emergencies”.
However, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero has attacked the neighboring country’s president for criticizing the war games. “Evo Morales shouldn’t feel nervous about the exercises. What he should be worried about is the Bolivians’ reaction to his unfulfilled promise he made in The Hague: Antofagasta will be part of Bolivia and and Bolivian flags will shine beautifully in our Pacific,” wrote the head of Chile’s foreign relations in a tweet.
Currently, the port city of Antofagasta in the Atacama Desert, belongs to Chile. However, Bolivia also claims the territory basing its arguments in treaties dating back to the 19th century. La Paz maintains it has the right to have an access to the Pacific Ocean through this region.