The controversy between Chile and Argentina regarding continental shelf limits south of Tierra del Fuego has triggered a series of exchanges, some public, others more low-key, but there is a growing consensus that any solution must emerge from the bilateral dialogue.
Precisely over the weekend Argentine much respected political analyst Joaquin Morales Sola wrote a column for the daily La Nación arguing that the event that in these days could lead to worse future consequences is the diplomatic affray of the Argentine government with Chile, over the limits of the so called continental ice fields. This occurs in a much distorted political scenario and in an electoral year.
In effect the controversy is taking place when both countries are in the midst of electoral processes, Argentina is holding midterm parliamentary elections next 14 November, and Chile a week later will hold presidential and legislative elections.
And most important none of the two are in their best tracks, rather the contrary.
Nationalism is the last refuge of governments scared of losing. Did president Piñera violate the peace accords of 1988 and 1999? Most probably yes. Solution nevertheless does not consist in tensing the relation even more, or in threatening to appeal to the International Court of The Hague.
Analyst Solá Morales adds that one of the few victories of Argentine democracy has been peace with Chile and the creation of Mercosur. Both ensured an area of peace in the south of the Americas in a world too tempted to successive wars in other corners. Lightening the nationalistic fiber of societies at electoral moments is an old medicine, worn out and fundamentally wrong. A medicine that could have long aftermaths and could also penetrate deeply among the common peoples on both sides of the Andes.
Finally, Argentina and Chile were in the threshold of an absurd war when the military ruled both countries. Democracy reestablished peace. Elections in both countries can't and must not provoke a regression of such progress. The Argentine president should take some minutes and reflect before deciding on the dispute with Chile, Relations with the country with which Argentina shares the longest border is far more important, far more important that the disturbing and probable results of a legislative election.