Tierra del Fuego provincial authorities in the extreme south of Argentina confirmed they would not be participating Sunday in Chile’s 201 independence anniversary in protest over statements from a local mayor who referred to the Malvinas Islands as Falkland Islands.
“We are waiting for an official apology from the mayor of Cabo de Hornos. Although Chilean national authorities have done so, specifically the mayor has yet to comply”, said Guillermo Gomez, Tierra del Fuego provincial government Institutional Relations secretary.
According to regional Radio Polar, Hugo Henríquez Matus, the Mayor of Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn) caused outrage when he spoke of an intended visit to the Falkland Islands instead of the Malvinas Islands, as all member states of Mercosur and Unasur refer to the disputed South Atlantic Islands.
Cabo de Hornos is a Chilean community close to Puerto Williams which is just across from Ushuaia the capital of Tierra del Fuego which under the Argentine constitution also has jurisdiction over Antarctica, Malvinas and other South Atlantic islands.
Tierra del Fuego officials and other local authorities as every year had been invited to participate in Sunday’s celebrations in Puerto Williams.
On hearing the news the Tierra del Fuego provincial government immediately issued a statement expressing surprise at the mayor’s indiscretion and saying that the Chilean Foreign Affairs ministry had warned Henrique Matus to refrain from any situation that would bring further problems.
Chilean consul in Ushuaia Francisco Gormaz said that the official Chilean policy is in support for Argentina’s sovereignty claims over the Falklands/Malvinas which are a British Overseas Territory.
Reports also indicate that Chile’s Antarctica province Nelson Carcamo contacted his peer in Tierra del Fuego Fabiana Río to express his apologies regarding the statements from Mayor Herniquez Matus.
Governor Rios said she was “saddened with the situation” but it “did not reflect the current cooperative relationship that existed between the two countries and the two neighbouring communities in the extreme south of the continent”.
But Carcamo also pointed out that Mayor Henriquez Matus was elected by the people of Cabo de Hornos in 2008 for a four year mandate and that “this segment of population” does not necessarily express the overwhelming support from the Chilean people for Argentina’s Malvinas claim.
“We need to understand and value the importance of the integration commitment we have with Argentina and which we have promoted for a long time”, said carcamo.
However the Tierra del Fuego daily ‘Fin del Mundo’ also published that the municipal authorities from Ushuaia, following on the Chilean governor apologies, would be attending the Sunday ceremony next to the Chilean people.