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Montevideo, November 19th 2018 - 22:25 UTC

Chilean Army clearing Magallanes region of anti personnel mines

Tuesday, January 26th 2016 - 08:37 UTC
Full article 3 comments
Beware of mines: a sign which has been standing since the seventies Beware of mines: a sign which has been standing since the seventies
Uncovering a mine, getting it ready to be removed Uncovering a mine, getting it ready to be removed
Some of the different explosives found in the field Some of the different explosives found in the field
One of the soldiers preparing for the dangerous task One of the soldiers preparing for the dangerous task

The Chilean Army is involved in anti personnel-mine sweeping operations in the Magallanes region, north of Punta Arenas, as part of the country's commitment to have the region free of all mines by 2020 thus complying with the Ottawa convention.

 According to the Army's report, 14 out of 16 fields have been cleared and they are currently working at Laguna Timone in the San Gregorio community in the 22 field, which should be completely cleared and secured by May 2017. Apparently an estimated 150 artifacts are buried in the area dating back to the seventies when the Beagle channel and islands conflict with neighboring Argentina.

Given the time elapsed and the fact that most of the mines are buried on a hillside, in a rocky soil with a high degree of mineral content, “the task is complicated, which demands appealing to mechanical equipment” according to the officer in charge of the squad.

“We estimate there are 150 mines buried, but we don't have a proper registry”, said Sebastian Sierra. “Despite the sacrifice and the risks we are proud of what we are doing and the team spirit is excellent, really professional”.

Another issue limiting the task in San Gregorio is the strong wind which can reach 80km per hour, and is highly risky if an emergency is involved. Anyhow 40% of the job is done mechanically with special remote controlled armored excavator, and the remaining 60% manual.

All work is suspended during the winter months.

The team is made up of 28 experts in de-mining with the logistics support: doctor, cook, nurse and drivers who can conduct ambulance and heavy duty trucks. Daily work is eight hours and those in the field crews, 40 minutes and 30 minutest rest, which apparently are the international regulations for such tasks.

Once the clearance of San Gregorio is finished the Chilean Army crew will be moving to Field 17 at Rio Chico, which should be finished during the first half of 2019, thus fully ensuring Magallanes region is free of mines and Chile will be complying with the Ottawa convention.

Categories: Politics, Chile.

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  • Marti Llazo

    This is really non-news, the sort of filler fluff that Meroprensa so often uses (and a shitty translation besides).

    What they don't mention is that all this mine removal has been going on for bloody ages and Chile keeps missing their own targets and deadlines for completion of the job.

    Something else not mentioned in the article: the Chilean government has a website that purports to show the locations of all the minefields. In typical flojera fashion, they don't include all of the active minefields ! (“ Well, we show MOST of the minefields but it's getting close to the game, so that's good enough...” ) Fortunately, on the ground, there are some old and faded triangular warning signs and some low wire fences you could easily step over, which surround the minefields not shown on the website.

    Yes, it is all very good that they are doing something, and they are doing so very carefully and professionally. And of course they would not have had to plant them in the first place if Argentina had not been planning to invade Chile in 1978 (and then Argentina returned to that invasion planning in 1982 when they figured that their taking over the Falklands was a done deal). Now, bring up the topic with an argento today he will say that the chilenos are “traidores” --- for having helped the UK prevent the Argentine invasion of Chile!!(demonstration of argento thought process).

    No question about Argentina's recent and very aggressive expansionist history. Coincidentally last week I was in Chile and talked to the commander of the “Lanceros” (essentially an armoured brigade but called a regiment). I asked about their defence posture in Magallanes. The answer was yes, we are keeping the Leopard tanks and the artillery in the region.

    Now let's have an article about the thousands of mines that the argentos left in the Falklands, that are still there, and how badly they mapped their placement.

    Jan 26th, 2016 - 01:17 pm 0
  • Conqueror

    @1. If it was a non-story, you've made it something else. How many other countries are “enemies” for argieland? Brazil? Ass-licking Bolivia, Paraguay threatened by argie nuclear reactors, cowardly Uruguay. At least Chile had the courage to aid the UK. Might have been better if they'd provided airbases so the UK could have bombed the whole of argieland.

    Jan 26th, 2016 - 02:09 pm 0
  • Marti Llazo

    The Falklands war was another case of “my enemy's enemy is my friend.” The Argentines were supposedly in the midst of a Dirty War against Marxist-inspired (and Peronist-supported) Montoneros but took assistance from the Soviets who of course were trying to undermine UK/NATO capabilities. Chile had recently been threatened with invasion by Argentina and so Peru, another traditional problem for Chile, provided aid to the Argentines as well, which forced Chile to keep troops near that frontier, while openly moving other “offensive looking” troops into areas that the UK had hoped would look threatening to Argentina's frontiers. There is credible evidence that Argentina did not deploy its full military potential to the Falklands campaign because it felt it had to counter the imaginary threat from Chile. Actually the extent of the UK-Chile cooperation is pretty interesting and allowed Chile's military government to work around some of the arms embargo initiated by the US government.

    Jan 26th, 2016 - 04:02 pm 0
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