Executive Intelligence Review


Bolivia Vows To Speed Up Construction of Bioceanic Railway

Oct. 6, 2018 (EIRNS)—After the International Court at The Hague ruled Oct. 1 that the Chilean government has no obligation to negotiate with Bolivia on the issue of granting Bolivia sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean—Chile confiscated Bolivia’s Pacific Coast territory during the British-orchestrated 1879-81 War of the Pacific—Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Oct. 2 his intention to accelerate construction of a bioceanic railroad extending from the Atlantic port of Santos in Brazil, through landlocked Bolivia, to the Pacific port of Ilo in Peru.

For years, Morales has aggressively promoted the development of the 3,500 km rail line, known as the Bioceanic Integration Rail Corridor. Both Peru and Brazil have officially committed to the project, although Brazil’s economic and political instability has cast doubt on the firmness of its commitment. Paraguayan and Uruguayan officials have participated in several technical planning meetings, and Argentina has expressed interest in joining. China has also taken an interest in the project, but has not jumped on board in a major way at this time.

In his press conference, Morales vowed that Bolivia will never renounce its sovereign claim to the Pacific coast, but for now it will push the rail project forward, so as not to have to depend any longer on northern Chilean ports to export its products, the use of which is guaranteed by a 1904 treaty.

The goal is to begin rail construction in 2019. La Razón of Bolivia reported Oct. 2 that Morales announced plans to build up Puerto Busch, a port on the Paraguay River located in southeastern Bolivia, which today requires a $600 million investment to expand and develop it into an efficient port from which to export Bolivian products to the Atlantic. Former Bolivian President Jaime Paz Zamora has proposed that Morales work closely with Peru in a “great binational project” to build a megaport between Ilo and other ports in southern Peru.

According to Bolivia’s Public Works Minister Milton Claros, reported by Sputnik Oct. 5, the government is in the process of pinning down the $14 billion financing for the rail project with a consortium of European companies. A Swiss-German grouping will be meeting in Bolivia at the end of October, to make “concrete decisions,” Sputnik adds. Financing will consist of a public- private partnership, and the German firm Herrenknecht AG and the Swiss firm Molinari and Stadler have been named as top contenders for the contract. Molinari is currently involved in building an urban electric train in the city of Cochabamba.