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Bolivia, Peru fight over 'national costume'

  • Story Highlights
  • Miss Peru, Karen Schwarz, set off firestorm in Bolivia with Andean-inspired outfit
  • Bolivia's cultural minister threatens to go to international court
  • Report: Peru cultural director says Bolivia has no grounds to claim dance
  • Peru also threatens to go to court: over maritime dispute with Chile and Bolivia
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(CNN) -- Fireworks continued to erupt between Bolivia and Peru over a costume worn at this year's Miss Universe pageant.

Last week, during the national costume part of the competition, Miss Peru, Karen Schwarz, wore an Andean-inspired outfit featuring a headpiece with large horns based on the costume used in the traditional Diablada, or deviled, folk dance.

In wearing the outfit, Schwarz unwittingly set off a firestorm in Bolivia, whose culture minister Pablo Groux threatened to go to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to claim that the Diablada belongs to Bolivia's culture and no one else.

Bolivia sent a letter to the Miss Universe organizers, citing evidence that the dance has its roots in Bolivia and distinctly belongs to the country, Bolivia's state-run news agency ABI reported.

Bolivia dancers showcased the Diablada at events in Washington and Panama, and Bolivia's ambassador to France summed up the country's stance, according to ABI: "We ask that urgent, adequate, opportune and pertinent measures be taken to protect Bolivian cultural patrimony and the respect of the origin of our customs and ancient traditions."

Peruvian officials have said that the Diablada folk dance has its roots in both countries.

Bolivia has no grounds to claim the dance in the international court, countered Peru's director of its National Institute of Culture, Cecilia Bakula told the newspaper El Comercio.

"This issue should stop because we can't lose tolerance or respect between both countries over things like this," Schwarz said in an interview with Bolivian media. "We have a dance that unites us because the Diablada is danced in Bolivia and Peru."

The cultural dispute comes at a time of political disagreement between the countries relating to maritime access at the border between Chile and Peru.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has accused Chile and land-locked Bolivia of negotiating an under-the-table deal that would leave Peru out.

On Monday Peru said it was taking its own case to the International Court of Justice over the maritime dispute.

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