Every year on ‘Día Del Mar,’ Bolivia celebrates the coastline they lost – by Chantelle Bacigalupo (PRI.org – March 22, 2019)


This year marks the 140th year that “Día Del Mar” or “National Day of the Sea” is celebrated in Bolivia.

Yes, Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America, but every year on March 23, this holiday remembers the “historical injustice” of the 250-mile Pacific coast that Bolivia lost to Chile in the War of the Pacific. It’s a day where the whole country rallies together to remember its determination to reclaim access to the Pacific Ocean once again.

To understand the origins of the holiday, it’s important to note the complex history of the coast. The 250 mile-coast along the Pacific was a great economic advantage for Bolivia since it possessed the natural resources of saltpeter and guano, a source of nitrates used in explosives and fertilizers until the early 1900s. However, the country’s sights were set on the mining business as its sole means of economic growth before the war.

In fact, Rafael Puentes, the author of “Recuperando la Memoria: Una Historia Crítica de Bolivia,” explains that the birth of the country itself is credited to the tremendous mining wealth found in Potosí, Bolivia.

“I don’t know of any other country that owes its existence to mining. It’s another thing that there are many countries with mining riches, but Bolivia exists because of mining,” Puentes said. “In summary, it can be said that one of the fundamental misfortunes of our birth itself as a country is essentially the lack of regard for other types of economic activities that can be profitable but are inevitably slow. Mining is a fast business.”

The wealth available along the coast was ignored by Bolivian governments and society. There were no roads built connecting Bolivian territory found on either side of the Andes. According to Puentes, 90 percent of the population in the port city of Antofagasta was Chilean.

For the rest of this article: https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-03-22/every-year-d-del-mar-bolivia-celebrates-coastline-they-lost