Bolivian Ambassador Marks "Dia del Mar" in Seoul
Bolivia's "Dia del Mar (Day of the Sea)" commemorates the first battle of the War of the Pacific, known as the "Battle of Topáter," which occurred on March 23, 1879. The War of the Pacific was fought between Chile and allied Peru and Bolivia for five years. Chile won the war and Bolivia lost its outlet to the sea, becoming a landlocked country.Why is the "Day of the Sea" so meaningful to Bolivia and its people?Before the war in 1879 Bolivia used to have outlet to the Pacific Ocean. But the country lost it during the war, becoming a country without a sea. In the wake of the war, the final peace treaty was signed in 1904.During the war the Bolivian troops tried to defend the town of Calama. But they were defeated by the allied forces of Chilean and Peruvian armies.At the height of the war the national hero of Bolivia, Col. Eduardo Abaroa was was killed in a battle.However, Bolivia still maintains its naval force of 5,000 personnel. The Bolivian Navy has a total of 173 vessels mostly stationed on Lake Titicaca 3,800 meters above sea level in the Andes.Bolivia has large rivers, major tributaries to the Amazon. The Bolivian Navy ships are patrolling the lake and rivers to prevent smuggling and drug trafficking.The country has not reconciled with the lost of its Pacific coast and the existence of the Navy symbolized the hope of regaining its coastal territory.Day of the Sea is commemorated by solemn ceremonies throughout Bolivia. On the Day of Sea flowers are laid at the statue of the late Col. Eduardo Abaroa. On this day every year the Bolivian Navy participates in a number of parades and government functions, asking for the coastal territories they lost to Chile during the war some 130 years back.
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