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Border Tensions Flare Between Bolivia and Chile

August 1, 1991

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) _ The longstanding border dispute between Bolivia and Chile has flared again with Bolivian allegations that Chile has moved border markings.

The dispute, which first surfaced last week, has led some angry Bolivians to demand the resignation of Foreign Minister Carlos Iturralde, who last week denied that any problem existed.

Chile and Bolivia share a 416-mile border and are important trading partners. Bolivia has long sought the return of an outlet to the Pacific, which it lost as a result of an 1879 war with Chile.

Chile is on the verge of resolving another border problem, one of many such disputes among South American nations. Presidents Carlos Menem of Argentina and Patricio Aylwin of Chile are to sign agreements Friday that define 23 border points along their 3,100-mile frontier.

The Bolivian congress on Thursday asked the Foreign Ministry to present a formal complaint to the Chilean government over the altered border markings, after a congressional committee said it determined that Bolivia had lost 10 square miles of land.

Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America. Many Bolivians believe that Chile, which is far wealthier and more developed, has an expansionist policy.

A Chilean gold mining company has established itself in the disputed area, and it is believed that the Chilean government’s concession to the company included land claimed by Bolivia.

The Bolivian government says a Chilean-Bolivian committee has been reviewing the border but has not yet reached the disputed area. The border markings were set in a 1904.

Tensions rose this week after it was reported that Bolivian troops had been sent to the disputed region. The reports, however, were denied by Gen. Guido Sandoval, the army commander.

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