Wednesday, February 20th 2013 - 02:45 UTC

Declassified documents show link between the Beagle channel dispute and the Falklands war

A revealing and unexpected connection between the Falklands conflict of 1982 and the Argentine dispute with Chile over the Beagle channel has been exposed by BBC World in Spanish based on UK declassified documents.

“Argentina/Chile: The Beagle channel dispute”

Constanza Hola Chamy had access to declassified UK diplomacy secret documents, particularly the exchange of information between a Chilean diplomat with vast experience in the Beagle dispute and a British diplomat, both of them stationed in Buenos Aires. The time: a month before the actual Argentine landing in the Falklands.

David Joy, at the time British embassy Counsellor in Buenos Aires contacts his Chilean peer Raul Schmidt, who was closely linked to the events of four years before when Argentina and Chile almost went to war over the sovereignty of the disputed Picton, Nueva and Lennox islands in the Beagle channel, where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet.

According to the Foreign Office secret records, “Argentina/Chile: The Beagle Channel dispute”, Joy was “particularly interested in listening Schmidt’s comments on the common origin of the current sovereignty problems of Argentina with the UK and Chile governments”.

Schmidt had been cabinet chief of Admiral Patricio Carvajal, who was Foreign Affairs minister of Pinochet until 1978, and thus had first hand and privileged information on the issue.

What Joy collected from Schmidt was immediately informed to London according to a restricted memorandum which was addressed to Colin Bright head of the South American desk at the Foreign Office.

But it would not be until a month later that pieces begun falling into the puzzle which the UK government was intent in understanding, or what is described in the report as “The Schmidt Thesis”.

“The Schmidt thesis is based essentially in the Argentine Navy’s need of a strategic port further south than its current and most secure port, Puerto Belgrano, (south of the province of Buenos Aires). The obvious option Ushuaia was not satisfactory from a security point of view because it is under constant Chilean surveillance” according to the report to which BBC in Spanish had access.

“Therefore Argentines are desperate, according to Schmidt to have some other secure port further south, a goal that could be satisfied by having access to the islands south of Beagle or the Falklands. In this context, Schmidt believes the sovereignty disputes are linked”, adds the report.

The report was received 15 March (1982) and distributed among the highest officials in the Foreign Office. 

And then there is a handwritten piece on the report which suggests, two weeks before the beginning of the conflict, and with relations between Buenos Aires and London already severed, that the British were willing to negotiate a naval settlement for the Argentines in the Falklands.

“I think we all agreed that the Argentine interest in the South Atlantic security is part of its interest to win sovereignty over the Islands. After all if all they wanted was a naval base, we could easily accommodate that”.
“Could we easily accommodate an Argentine naval base? Because if that is the case we should have that idea in mind if we resume negotiations”, reads another handwritten comment on the same document.
According to Joy the conversation with Schmidt was the first to suggest that both territorial conflicts for the islands (Beagle and Falklands) in the south could be linked.

“It makes sense” Francisco Panizza tells BBC. Panizza is a Uruguayan national expert in Latinamerican policy who teaches at the London School of Economics Government School.

Panizza adds that there have always been many theories, but always a historic vacuum when it comes to determine why the military government of General Leopoldo Galtieri chose that moment to invade the Falklands. 

Leaving aside the exchange between the British and Chilean diplomats, the declassified documents also reveal that the British government had followed with great interest and for quite some time the evolution of the conflict between Argentina and Chile over the three strategic islands in the Beagle channel

Precisely the secret documents indicate that in 1982 Argentina was in the fourth year of intense international lobbying to try and turn back the 1978 mediation of the Pope, which supported the international arbitration under British auspices and that decided to award sovereignty over the Beagle Islands to Chile.

However Argentina committed a major strategic mistake under international diplomacy terms, which finished burying any possibility of support, according to the assessment from the British government reports.

Having dropped at the beginning of that year the 10-year treaty Argentina had signed with Chile to submit territorial conflicts to international arbitrage was not well received by the international community.

Following two unfavourable international interventions, an almost war and years of lobbying, it seemed non productive for Argentina to keep up with those efforts.

“It is still not clear how the Argentines will continue to manage the dispute, given the lack of international support”, pointed out a confidential report from the Foreign Office to 10 Downing Street.

The document was written 29 April 1982, only three days before the Royal Navy sank the General Belgrano, flagship of the Argentine Navy, which ultimately decided the course of the war in favour of the British.


33 comments Feed

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1 Marcos Alejandro (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 03:34 am Report abuse
2 Frank (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:11 am Report abuse
Yep....zzzzzzzzzzz...... we already know that RGs are lying thieving twats who won't abide by anything that doesn't go their way .. ' in 1982 Argentina was in the fourth year of intense international lobbying to try and turn back the 1978 mediation of the Pope,'
3 Nostrolldamus the 12th (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:13 am Report abuse

Your country abides by things that don't go their way?

That's news to me.
4 Marcos Alejandro (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:23 am Report abuse
2 Frank
Sorry I was listening to Pastor Ben and Monica stories...friend of yours?
5 reality check (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:24 am Report abuse
As far as your concerned, since then, our country does the hell what it likes and there is not a thing you can do about it. You resorted to war and you lost.
6 Nostrolldamus the 12th (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:29 am Report abuse
I'm not concerned about what you do to Argentina, since you have absolutely no leverage on us. And you should not either on our part since you have the islands well protected.

I would just remind you to be circumspect on that attitude towards others. Last time you acted on that one, it cost you over 700 casualties in your capital city no less. And they can do that one again and 10 times over in a heartbeat if you think of any funny games in the future.
7 Frank (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:41 am Report abuse
@2 My country doesn't end up in arbitration after trying to steal other people's land.
8 reality check (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:47 am Report abuse

Wtf are you on!
9 Faulconbridge (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 04:47 am Report abuse
“the Argentine Navy’s need of a strategic port further south than its current and most secure port, Puerto Belgrano”
...yet the only reason Argentina could need such a port would be toinvade Chile or the falklands.
10 reality check (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 05:17 am Report abuse
Secure Argentine port. No such thing, not anymore.
11 Anglotino (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 05:52 am Report abuse
Aren't Argentine ports very secure now? I thought they had let some silt up and in others they have sunk naval vessels to block access.

But I guess there is less need for naval ports compared to the late 70s early 80s these days.
12 LEPRecon (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 06:33 am Report abuse
@6 - Tobias/TTT/Nostril

Here you are again commenting on a story relating to the Falkland Islands.

So when you said you didn't comment on 90% of Falklands related stories, we can now all safely assume that you were lying.

And once again you try and deflect away from this story with unrelated rants about other stuff.

Face it, Tobias/TTT/Nostril, the only country with colonial ambitions in the South Atlantic area is Argentina.

You wanted more land, more resources more, more, more, more, more, and you didn't and don't care who you have to steal it from.

None of your neighbours would trust Argentina as far as they could throw your country, and neither do the Falkland Islanders or the UK.

Fortunately for all of your neighbours, Argentina is so monumentally mismanaged by your successive governments, that you aren't so much of a threat anymore.

Argentina once the big, bruiser of a bully boy, throwing his weight around.

Then one day the big bully decided to pick on a smaller man who lived near him. Argentina, the big bully, broke into his home, threatened him and his family, and began stuffing his possessions in his pockets.

What you didn't count on was the little guys, Falklands, big brother (UK) coming around and beating the sh!t out of you, and throwing you out of his little bother's house.

And like all bully's, Argentina was cowardly, and slunk back home in shame.

But the damage to Argentina's bad boy reputation was done, and all those other people who used to be afraid of Argentina realised that he was nothing but a paper tiger. A big man, who was a coward.

And since then the big bad Argentina has turned to drink, and is constantly falling down and making a fool of himself.

Everyone looks on with a mixture of pity and contempt.

And that is what your governments have made Argentina, a country held in contempt by your neighbours, and pitied by them at the same time.
13 puerto argentino (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 07:10 am Report abuse
14 Gordo1 (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 07:53 am Report abuse
¡Obviamente, los chilenos saben quienes son sus verdaderos amigos!

Obviously, the Chileans know who their true friends are!
15 lsolde (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:59 am Report abuse
Aren't the Argentines just so full of themselves?
And so full of it.
“l want your land, so you WILL give it to me”
l want, l want, l want!
Just like a kid throwing a tantrum in a supermarket.
List of favourite Argentine words:-
1) Want,
2) Demand,
3) Insist,
4) Reject,
5) Reaffirm.
Nothing for you,
nothing to see,
move along please.
16 Foxtrot Indigo (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 01:07 pm Report abuse
Rg's: they came, they saw, but they never conquered!
17 Conqueror (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 01:10 pm Report abuse
@1 Bang!!!!
@3 Everything is news to you!!
@4 Read this one?
@13 “Royal Navy announces new cruise missile test in South Atlantic at -48.443778,-58.381348”
18 Condorito (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 01:38 pm Report abuse
Just wait until they declassify documents about Chilean special forces embedded in 2 Para...that might wake up puerco argentino and guzz.
19 redpoll (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 02:25 pm Report abuse
...Trolls all zizzing today. Dreaming of the Malvinas perhaps? Wet dreams perhaps?
I seem to remember a comment in early 82 from Argentina “The only thing that can save this government is a war” and the Junta knew it. So two options:Chile or the Falklands and the Falklands seemed to be the easy option
Chile has always had a policy that any attack or frontier incident by Argentina would be lead to total war and that the first retaliation would be to bomb and knock seven bells out of Buenos Aires
The Chilean armed forces, particularly the navy has a long history of professional competence and the Argentines know it
Even during the Falklands war Argentina kept its best mountain divisions on the frontier and sent raw young consripts from the tropical provinces of Corrientes and Misiones to the Falklands
Having said that the intervention in politics and military dictatorship under Pinochet was particularly odious
A bit like Churchills alliance with Soviet Russia in WW2. When asked to defend that alliance in Parliament,Churchill replied
“If Hitler invaded hell I would at least make a favourable reference to the devil in this House”
20 briton (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 07:04 pm Report abuse
once CFK realises and fully understands that she has no hope in the falklands,

perhaps she may look nearer to home for that ellusive victory,
chile perhaps.
21 Brit Bob (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 07:14 pm Report abuse
Interesting to note that the '1882 Latzina Map' was used in the Beagle Island Dispute - the map that was produced by Argentina in the 10's of thousands for their consulates which shows the Falkland Islands in a different colour to the rest of their territory.
22 Escoses D0ido (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:06 pm
Comment removed by the editor.
23 briton (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:10 pm Report abuse
22 Escoses D0ido

if you don't have nothing else to say keep quiet but don't make a fool of yourself
24 Musky (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:11 pm Report abuse
@19 redpoll
Nice one and well done Churchill, after all; your enemy's enemy is your friend.
25 redpoll (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:19 pm Report abuse
@23 Its just Sussie being noughty again nd stealing others identity
26 briton (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:27 pm Report abuse
25 redpoll
i have reported her five time today, for impersonating, she will ruin this site unless mercopress stops people changing their usernames day after day,

but thanks
27 lsolde (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 09:51 pm Report abuse
Soozy is so obvious & not even an irritant.
his/her/its posts are of no importance.
Keep it up soozy, it gets you off the streets & pays you a(very small)wage.
28 redpoll (#) Feb 20th, 2013 - 10:19 pm Report abuse
Isolde with an o in your screen mane you will probably be next!
29 lsolde (#) Feb 21st, 2013 - 05:44 am Report abuse
@28 redpoll,
l've put a block in place that should repel our silly soozy.
Soon see if it works!
30 redpoll (#) Feb 21st, 2013 - 01:31 pm Report abuse
Argentine base in the Falklands
The hand written comment of “we might be able to accomodate them on that” two months prior to the invasion
The commentator seems to have been unaware that Argentina already had an illegal base in the Falkland Islands Dependecies called Corbeta Uruguay
It was on the island of South Thule in the South Sandwich group of islands The UK goverment under Callaghan was perfectly aware of the illegal base and made a few ineffectual proteststo Argentina about it but did little else
So 1982 wasnt the first invasion as Thule was illegally occupied from November 1976 ttill 1982 by Argentina. Even after the surrender some sneaky Argentine went and rehoisted the Argentine flag after which the whole base was reduced to ruble by demolition experts
31 briton (#) Feb 21st, 2013 - 09:34 pm Report abuse
Amazing what CFK claims aint it.
All mine all mine
32 redp0ll (#) Feb 22nd, 2013 - 12:12 am Report abuse
Somebody jiggered my account but redpoll is back with a zero instead of an o. So thats defeated dear Sussies little pranks for the moment.
CFK has an insatiable hunger for Lebensraum. Of course under the Treaty of Tordesillas she will be claiming Chile, Uruguay, Peru and dare I say it half of Brazil. Crissy I dont think Dilma would appreciate that!
33 row82 (#) Feb 26th, 2013 - 11:42 pm Report abuse
Please support this page - Falklands Forever British - dedicated to Falkland Islands current affairs, keeping the islands free and poking fun at the lunacy of the Argentine government and their various claims and winding up their Internet trolls -

Please support our other page - Falkland Islands Desire The Right - dedicated to Falkland Islands current affairs -

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