Punta Arenas in the extreme south of Chile will host the International Antarctic Center, CAI, a long-time project several times delayed but which finally was given the green light, and should begin to be built in the near future with an investment demanding some 75 million US dollars.
The project which has been included in the Special Development Plan for Extreme Zones of Chile received the Satisfactory Recommendation this week, following on years of objections to the initial outlay of the project and the funds later needed to keep the CAI functioning and justify its viability.
Even before taking the office, the current elected Magallanes Region governor, Jorge Flies ratified his interest in the project and consulted with Santiago on the opportunity and possibilities of moving ahead with the investment. Apparently the talks were positive and the project received the necessary central government support.
However the regional government will have to find the funds or partners for the CAI, which has an estimated cost of some US$ 75 million, but is seen as crucial for the ongoing development of Punta Arenas as the gate of access to Antarctica.
Chile has a long standing relation with Antarctica and following on a bill passed in September 1963, the Chilean Antarctic Institute, INACH, was officially inaugurated on 29 May 1964.
And in 2003, INACH was declared an entity of Public Service, and its headquarters were moved from Santiago to Punta Arenas in what was considered a geopolitical strategic move, thus the significance of having the International Antarctic Center. Punta Arenas is the last continental call port for many vessels from the different countries involved in Antarctica scientific research.