Argentina has sent a diplomatic note to the Chilean Government of President Sebastián Piñera rejecting the latter's “expansive vocation” with regards to his most recent decree concerning the continental shelf.
The new border dispute was sparked when Piñera included in Chilean charts some 5,500 km2 of ocean Argentina claims to own. The controversy is likely to reach The Hague's international arbitration courts.
Argentina's Foreign Ministry also claims dialogue between Piñera and President Alberto Fernández had been quite fluent, making the latter unsuspicious of what was eventually signed. The country also insists Chile's decision is in violation of treaties between the two countries.
The aspiration that Chile now manifests is contrary to the 1984 Peace and Friendship Treaty and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and expresses an expansive vocation that Argentina is forced to reject, says the note.
The claim referred to in said Decree is manifestly untimely and inconsistent with the conduct of Chile before May 2020 and disregarding of provisions of the applicable international standards whose interpretation in good faith is required by international law.
Argentina and Chile were on the brink of war in late 1978 over the three islands of the Beagle Channel, which was prevented through the mediation of Pope John Paul II and his envoy, Cardinal Antonio Samore.
Last weekend, Buenos Aires' large-circulation daily Clarín linked the new dispute between Argentina and Chile to the building in the Falkland Islands of a deep-sea mega port in Port Stanley which - according to the report- would compete in logistics and technology with the Argentine port terminal of Ushuaia.
“The new Malvinas port is also planned for tourist cruises and scientific and Antarctic expeditions, where Chile, Argentina and the United Kingdom have overlapping claims,” wrote Clarín.
“The new fight between Argentina and Chile for just over 5,000 kilometres southeast of Cape Horn rekindled the importance of the port,” the newspaper went on and added that “Chileans also warned that international law stipulates free navigation in the waters that surround the Malvinas, Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (the United Kingdom controls an economic zone space that is self-awarded)” which “is a preview of the conflicts that can be generated by the dispute over those islands when the new Malvinas port terminal generates more traffic.”
Meanwhile, Infobae also addressed the issue, wondering if Piñera's move and Argentina's response were “Harmless electoral or recklessness with unforeseeable consequences?”
Infobae also recalled recent statements from politicians of the Argentine province of Mendoza, who favoured a possible provincial secession in addition to comments from opposition politicians that Argentina might as well give away the Malvinas in exchange for vaccines, in defiance of Constitutional provisions mandating a diplomatic fight for sovereignty.
The website also cited “a long succession of pseudo-Mapuche provocations in the south, with attacks on inhabitants of the area, usurpations of land and a preaching in favour of 'nations' falsely postulated as pre-existing to Argentina and Chile.”
“It is in this scenario -says Infobae- that the decree of the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, violates the peace agreements of 1988 and 1999, generating a reply from Argentina and compromising bilateral relationships.”
The report also recalls 1984 the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed at the Vatican under Presidents Raúl Alfonsín and Augusto Pinochet and that on December 16, 1998, Presidents Carlos Menem and Eduardo Frei signed the agreement that put an end to the last pending controversy between Chile and Argentina - the question of Continental Ice, in addition to the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1902 by Presidents Julio A Roca (Argentina) and Germán Riesco Errázuriz (Chile).
Infobae insisted on the electoral approach since both countries are holding elections before the end of 2021. Chile will choose a new president while Fernández's future hinges on the number of lawmakers he may garner in the upcoming mid-term elections. Chile is also going through constitutional reform. The article warned that “the risk is that two irresponsible leaders will put their short electoral interest before the strategic ones of their respective countries and endanger without the slightest scruples more than a century of understanding on this matter.”