President Alan García of Peru announced on Monday his belief that Bolivian President Evo Morales has successfully negotiated an “under-the-table” maritime deal with Chile that will grant sea access to the landlocked republic. The announcement provoked swift denials from both governments and is the latest development in the acrimonious diplomatic relationship between Bolivia and Peru. Chilean foreign minister Mariano Fernández called Mr. García’s allegations a “provocation” against Chile, but also expressed a commitment to settling the dispute peacefully.
According to a treaty dating back to 1929, Peru is permitted to approve any future bilateral agreement between Bolivia and Chile that pertains to ocean access that would require the use of territory that Peru lost to Chile in the War of the Pacific in 1884. Bolivia’s efforts to secure sea access have intensified in recent years as it has sought new markets for its expanding natural gas exports.