Amigos de Sucre

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Archive for May, 2009

Agreeing on borders

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

One of the most important events for anyone interested in 20th Century Bolivian history is the Chaco war, (1932-1935) fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over suspected oil resources in their border region.

As in many previous conflicts that Bolivia was involved in, it ended with the country losing land (approximately 75% of the Chaco region went to Paraguay).  In 1938 a truce was signed in Argentina, but this was not really the end of the subject as many Bolivians were not happy with the result.  It remained a topic as sensitive as the loss of the coastline to Chile.

Recently the topic has resurfaced, and Bolivia and Paraguay have signed an agreement to finalise the border – more than 70 years after the end of the conflict.

It could be compared to a similar situation between Germany and Poland.  Their common border was agreed in Potsdam in 1945 and is known as the “Oder-Neiße-Border“.  A formal agreement between the GDR and Poland was made in 1970, and to avoid any discussion on its validity it was confirmed in the 4+2 agreement on the re-unification of Germany in 1990.  A final contract between the states was signed in 1992.

On the other side of Bolivia, another border project is being discussed: a 150km tunnel to link Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean.  As much as I like the idea, it does sound like rather a big undertaking for those two countries.  And because of the area it is in, Peru would have to agree as well.

Do your homework, Mr. Bond!

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

I finally got to see the film Quantum of Solace on DVD the other day, having missed it in the cinemas.

Part of the action supposedly takes place in Bolivia.  I say “supposedly”, because I recall that a number of outside shots were actually done in Chile – much to the anger of the local mayor, who objected to his community portraying Bolivians. (The area concerned had actually been part of Bolivia until 1883).

In fact, very few of the scenes were actually shot in Bolivia itself.  Even La Paz airport, which I was suspicious of when I first saw the scene, turned out to be at Farnborough in the UK!

But there were two things about the Bolivian scenes that I spotted right away.

Firstly, the roads.  Those roads to the hotel in the desert were too new!  I don’t remember the roads between the main towns being that good.  In fact, I remember in particular the road out of Potosí on the way to La Paz being of a high standard until about 5km north of the town.  Then it reverted to the usual dusty and bumy version for the rest of the journey.

However the line that really caught me off guard was at the party in La Paz.  The character Dominic Greene said that Bolivia had a water problem, because they had cut down so many trees that the topsoil had sliden into the sea.

Now, quite apart from the fact that I was not aware of such activities on Bolivia (I thought that was one of the problems in Africa…), which “sea” exactly would that be?


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