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Montevideo, September 26th 2023 - 09:35 UTC



Almost war, 25 years ago.

Friday, January 2nd 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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In one of its 2003 last editions “La Prensa Austral” from Punta Arenas recalls that 25 years ago Argentina and Chile were in the verge of war, and a last minute intervention from the then newly named Pope John Paul, avoided the full scale conflict.

Apparently Argentine troops were already on the move in the eve of 1979, when the successful appeal and mediation of John Paul before the two military rulers of Argentina and Chile, Generals Jorge Videla and Augusto Pinochet.

The dispute was over the delimitation of the Argentine-Chilean border in the extreme insular south of Tierra del Fuego, an area under litigation since the independence of both countries, and where apparently the theatre of military actions was to be concentrated.

John Paul's mediation opened the way for a formal understanding signed in Montevideo in early 1979, and in 1984 when Argentina had recovered democracy a Treaty of Peace and Friendship was finally signed with Chile. The treaty was subject to a referendum in Argentina with an overwhelming approval.

Later in the nineties under former president Carlos Menem, virtually all border conflicts with Chile were solved, a confidence building process between the Armed Forces of both countries was began and a strong military power demobilization on both sides of the border was consolidated.

La Prensa Austral not only underlines the political impact of the Vatican's mediation but also that the 1978/79 events effectively showed that Patagonia is the border area of Argentina and Chile historically most integrated, and where that spirit moves faster "than the will of the authorities".

Communications are fluid, bilateral exchanges and events are the rule, and hundreds of Chileans have made their home and grown families in Argentine Patagonia.

Therefore points out La Prensa Austral, there are ample reasons to recall those events, celebrate peace and render homage to Pope John Paul's mediation.

And also recall that the promised monument to peace in the common border is still a promise.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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