Sea For Bolivia - A Negotiation Analysis Part II



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.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; }span.MsoFootnoteReference { vertical-align: super; }span.FootnoteTextChar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; }.MsoPapDefault { margin-bottom: 10pt; line-height: 115%; }div.WordSection1 { page: WordSection1; } Present Situation
At present, ocean access is an issue that governs the Bolivian political and social agenda. The Bolivians keep awake their longing to regain what they lost with several different manifestations. They celebrate the “Sea Day” once a year with a great military parade and long lasting speeches. It is not strange to find murals in cities with violent motives against Chileans, and the Bolivian Navy still exists as a branch of the armed forces, preparing to operate in their lost coasts. But on contrary of what one could think, their demand is not that much of recovering their lost territories, but more about recovering their access to the ocean so they can have a port that could give Bolivia a better trade position.

The Chilean government on the other hand has showed open to discuss a possible solution to this problem, but in practice, has no possibility to offer Bolivia what they are asking for. Bolivia is asking for sovereign access to the sea, which translates into a land strip cession that would either dissect the Chilean territory in two or involve ceding formerly Peruvian territories. Chile cannot do any of these without severely disconnecting its national territory or violating the Chile-Peru peace treaty of 1883.

The discussion has become more relevant in the last years, due to the potential exploitation of big natural gas deposits in southern Bolivia. To materialize the export of the gas, Bolivia has to build a gas duct to a seaport were the gas can be liquefied and shipped. The logic path for such gas duct would be through Chilean territories, but Bolivia refuses to benefit Chile with such an investment if the maritime issue is not yet resolved. Because of this, Bolivia has to consider constructing the gas duct through Peru, or even through Brazil on the east. But these alternatives increase the cost of the project so much, that turn it unviable.

Analysis of the Negotiation Environment:

I believe that the main obstacle for meeting an agreement in this negotiation is the Principal-Agent conflict and the many sources of intervention, like public opinion, that apply pressure to the agents. The presidents of both countries are the agents, and the nations they are governing are the principals. Presidents, as any politician, are heavily influenced by the impact on public opinion of their actions. This impact is greatly magnified by the public nature of this negotiation, which is permanently been covered by public media. An example of this is the utilization of the conflict by many recent Bolivian governments as an escape goat to justify Bolivia’s poor economic performance and not assuming their own share of responsibility.

This Principal-Agent conflict is magnified by the constant change in the persons negotiating. Although at any given point, the negotiating parties appear to be monolithically represented by their Presidents and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, in the last decades many governments have represented both sides. This constant change in governments, which is natural to a democracy, disincentives the presidents from looking for a long-term solution, because it carries high political costs and it would be another president’s government the one that would enjoy the benefits of such an agreement. Maybe that’s the reason why the only time when the two countries were close to an agreement was in the 70’s when both, Chile and Bolivia, were under the power of long lasting dictators, Pinochet and Stroessner. In that time negotiations were very advanced, but nothing materialized.

In this negotiation there are two parties directly involved: Bolivia and Chile. But there is a strong linkage with Peru who would be greatly affected by the outcome of any agreement between Bolivia and Chile, and has the power to veto it if the agreement involves any land formerly owned by Peru. For Peru it is strategic to maintain a border with Chile. Therefore Peruvians will reject, and they have done so in the past[1], any Chilean cession of land in their northern border. On the other hand Peru is benefited by the conflict because Bolivia is currently conducting their exports through Peruvian territory. This carries important externalities for Peru’s southern provinces. Peru is hence benefited by a delay in an agreement, while Chile is mostly unaffected. Bolivia on the other hand sees its economy affected by every year that this conflict extends, not only because they don’t have access to the sea, but also because they refrain to use Chilean ports as a protest, even though using other routes is less efficient.

[1] In 1925 Chile and Bolivia reached an Agreement were Chile ceased the northern port of Arica to Bolivia, but Peru vetoed the agreement.






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