Evo Morales this week refuted Peruvian President Ollanta Humala’s claims that the Bi-Oceanic railway will not pass through Bolivian territory, insisting that two options remain under consideration and that the Bolivian route would be both shorter and cheaper than the more northerly alternative.
Bolivia supports a possible transcontinental rail corridor that would pass through Bolivian territory connecting Pacific and Atlantic ports in Brazil and Peru. The option backed by Morales would be shorter and more direct, whereas Humala has claimed that project is more likely to travel 5,000km to the north. The second option will cross the continent at a broader point, will not enter Bolivian territory and will travel along the most southerly point of the Amazon.
“There are still incomplete bilateral discussions with Peru, and it will be important to develop this subject” Morales explained in an interview with state radio station Patria Nueva.
Humala last week claimed that the project would not enter Bolivian territory, before later clarifying that neither proposal had yet been rejected.
“I want to make a very timely clarification. Peru said the bi-oceanic railroad would not pass through this country, however, there are still two projects under discussion, one through Bolivia, which will cost less and be shorter” Morales insisted.
The Bolivian President is eager to meet with his Peruvian counterpart to resolve the issue, and a meeting was announced by the Bolivian government nine months ago. As of yet, this has failed to materialize with both sides blaming packed agendas.
Peruvian diplomats traveled to La Paz earlier this month, but, upon Peruvian insistence, the allotted time was dedicated to cross-boarder security and anti-narcotic activity. In addition to the bi-oceanic railway, Bolivian diplomats had hoped that the meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss access to the Peruvian port of Ilo, an agreement which has been awaiting Peruvian congressional ratification since 2010.
Bolivian regional transport integration and reliable access to international ports has been a priority for the country for many decades, as a key stimulus for exports and economic development.
“I repeat, if the bi-oceanic railway passes through Bolivia it will be shorter and cheaper,” the President insisted during this weeks interview.