Día del Mar

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray



Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America, with a long, painful history regarding the sea. On March 23, 1879, Bolivia lost the War of the Pacific to Chile and, as a consequence, it lost its Pacific coast. Each year on this day, El Día del Mar serves to remember and mourn this historic blow to Bolivia’s pride and resources.

But Bolivians don’t only express their grievance for their former coastline on March 23rd. In fact, 136 years later, this loss is still characteristic of Bolivian identity. The fiery-red jackets of Los Colorados, a distinguished military unit in Bolivia, represent the blood shed in the War of the Pacific. A political poster above Plaza Avaroa defends Bolivia’s “sovereign access to the sea.” Young artists in the country still find inspiration in this story of national loss. And during  football games between Bolivia and Chile, Chilean fans taunt their opponents by singing “Vamos a la Playa”.

El Día del Mar is not just about water -- it’s about pride. It represents the pain of a country that has always stood in the economic shadow of its neighbor, and it’s hard to say when or if this wound will ever heal.


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