(Photo : Reuters)
Bolivian President Evo Morales traveled to Atlanta on Monday to meet former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to discuss Bolivia's pending lawsuit against Chile to regain sea access for the small landlocked country.
In 1879, Bolivia lost 400 km of access to the Pacific coastline during a 5-year war with Chile, named the War of The Pacific.
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Chile refuses to return the land, since the handover was agreed amicably in a 1904 treaty. Bolivia has since filed a lawsuit against Chile in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, claiming that it has a right as a country to have at least some form of access to the ocean for trade and national well being purposes.
"The president went this morning to the city of Atlanta (Georgia, southeast) for his meeting with ex-President Carter," announced President Morales' information office in La Paz.
According to information released by Morales' office, the general purpose of the meeting between the two political figures is to gain insight into the former president's experience in returning the Panama Canal to then Panamanian President Omar Torrijos. The canal was built and administered by the United States in the early 20th century and Carter's administration gave sovereign control of the canal in what was considered a controversial move.
The Bolivian president said that agreements like that of Carter and Torrijos are historical proof that a similar agreement between Bolivia and Chile can also be reached soon.
Carter has had a controversial tenure as ex-president, often meeting leaders that are very vocal in their criticism of the United States. His efforts on behalf of diplomacy have often made him the center of heated political discussions.
In May 2002, Carter became the first US president to visit Cuba where he met with Fidel Castro and discussed several foreign policy issues including the trade embargo and the relationship between the two countries. And in 2004, Carter certified the Venezuelan recall elections as being free from any form of fraud or government intrusion.
Evo Morales has been president of Bolivia since 2006 and has often been grouped together with several other Latin American presidents who are critical of the United States and what they believe its negative influences have been on Latin America. Along with Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa, Evo Morales is seen as part of a growing trend of Latin American leaders with governments that lean toward the far left.