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Montevideo, May 19th 2024 - 07:58 UTC



Falklands war: “The secret pact between Chile and the United Kingdom”, ex-head of Argentine Army

Monday, May 13th 2024 - 10:59 UTC
Full article 14 comments
Thatcher visits General Pinochet on the Wentworth estate Thatcher visits General Pinochet on the Wentworth estate

A former commander in chief of the Argentine Army, 2003 to 2011, and Malvinas Veteran, Martín Balza in a recent column in the Buenos Aires daily Perfil, wrote a column exposing what he described as 'a secret pact between Chile and UK', to help avoid the defeat of the British Task Force in 1982 during the Falkland Islands conflict with Argentina.

”Days before the beginning of the Malvinas War, 2 April 1982, the British ambassador in Chile, John Heath started talks to reach an understanding with the Chileans and their support in the conflict.

Initially the approach was with the Chilean Air Force, whose commander in chief and member of the military Junta, Fernando Matthei received in Santiago RAF captain David L. Edwards, (head of Intelligence at RAF High Wycombe), who delivered a letter from his chief, Sir David Great, in which support for the Falklands war effort was requested,

Matthei then reported to president General Augusto Pinochet who agreed to the request since it was seen as a great opportunity to reinforce the Chilean air force, help British victory and strengthen the Chilean strategy in the Beagle Channel dispute with Argentina.

According to Matthei, ”it was not in the interest of Chile having Argentina bash the British, because then (as president Galtieri had announced), we were to be the next in the line. Galtieri addressing a packed Plaza de Mayo roared that Malvinas was only the beginning, --he seemed to be Mussolini--, and we were most concerned since after the Islands, the Argentine military incursion would point towards us“.

And while the Chile/UK pact was being instrumented, then foreign secretary Francis Pym and Mrs. Margret Thatcher, said that ”we British do not satisfy dictators....Argentina systematically disregards Human Rights. It is the British who unhold democracy.“

Balza then argues it was difficult to accept that both leaders ignored that in Chile, as in Argentina, military juntas rules accused of committing serious violations of Human Rights. But in April 1982, Chilean ambassador in Buenos Aires, Sergio Onofre Jarpa stated that, ”in so far as Chile is concerned, Argentina has its back covered (protected)“ While Pinochet said publicly, ”we need to be watchful to preserve our neutrality”

Under the terms of the Chile/UK pact, Punta Arenas air base was open for RAF intelligence and spying missions, using aircraft marked FACH (Chilean Air Force). Besides it allowed elite forces from the UK Special Air Service. SAS, and Special Boat Service, SBS, to operate in Chilean territory.

Exchange of intelligence data, including monitoring and decrypting Argentine codes and signals, supplied by the Chilean Navy.

Chile was reattributed with six Canberra bombers, some of which used in secret operations during the Malvinas conflict. A squadron of Hawker bombers, the HMS Glamorgan destroyer and Argentine equipment left behind by Argentine forces in the Falklands.

End of UK arms sales restrictions for Chile, supply of enriched uranium and the option of an English nuclear Magnox reactor

Political and diplomatic support at the UN to neutralize investigations on Human Rights violations committed by the Chilean military regime.

Furthermore Chile was also involved in a psychological campaign using its own radio waves for an “electronic war” and did not avoid adverse comments referred to the Argentine recovery of our Islands, describing them as “territorial claims” hindering Chilean interests.

“Our Malvinas communications were permanently interfered by Chilean anonymous broadcasters, and I was a witness, who insulted Argentina and made offensive remarks towards our troops. Chile also displayed military troops along the border with Patagonia to distract our own war effort.

Likewise, as reported by Clarin in May 2002, ”the Chilean navy in April 1982, sailed from Valparaíso southwards, under strict radio silence in an effort to force Argentines to distract military resources in the Islands”.

British spy aircraft marked as belonging to FACH (Chilean Air Force), flew with RAF pilots, and sometimes according to some sources, with FACH observers on board.

Balza also mentions that Labor left wing publication, The New Statesman, reported that the Chilean government turned a blind eye to some British activities in the Southern Atlantic, according to Santiago sources.

Likewise a quote from the leading Spanish newspaper El Pais, June 1982 points out that Chile is preparing to become an ally of the UK in Latin-American, and president General Pinochet is ready to give a hand in pushing out the military Junta in Argentina. The same sources indicate that Chile is allowing the British to use their territory for military operations”. Similarly on 29 May 1982 when the TIAR (Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Support) held in Washington, Chile abstained together with the US, Colombia and Trinidad Tobago.

But undoubtedly the most conclusive revelation of Chilean support for Britain was publicly announced on 9 October 1999, when the annual conference of the Conservative Pary, where the Iron Lady, Mrs. Thatcher among other concepts said that, “Chile is our oldest friend in South America, since Admiral Cochrane helped liberate Chile from the oppressive Spanish empire rule.... President Pinochet has been an unconditional support for the UK and when Argentina invaded the Falklands they supplied us with most valuable help. Pinochet together with General Matthei delivered very timely alerts of imminent Argentine air attacks which allowed our fleet to prepare defensive actions”. Previous to that in 1984, an Englishman George Foulkes, a spokesperson for Latin American affairs said regarding the former British Prime Minister, “her hypocrisy is incredible; she refuses to negotiate with a democratic government in Argentina, but is willing to make business with the Chilean dictatorship”. Statements which Chilean Air Force commander in chief never denied, underlines Balza.

Balza who headed the Argentine Army during the Carlos Menem presidency and later was ambassador in Colombia and Costa Rica, pointed out that is was a most curious reaction that, ”the successive Argentine governments which Argentina have had since then (1982), opted to bag all the evidences of this secret pact with the excuse of not causing a deterioration in relations with our neighbor“.

”I am convinced nothing will debilitate our feeling of friendship and kindred with the Chilean people, which was never involved in the decisions taken by the Pinochet dictatorship. On the contrary they are consolidated with the historic truth, expressed sincerely and respectfully.”

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  • Steve Potts

    Mustn't forget that Chile and Argentina nearly went to war in 1978 over their 'Beagle Island Dispute.'

    Interestingly, this 'Argentine' map was used successfully by Chile to support its case and shows the Falklands in a different colour.

    Falklands claim? This map clearly shows that in 1882 Argentina had abandoned her claim to the Falklands.

    Latzina Map and the Falklands:
    (Successfully used in the Beagle Islands dispute Arg/Chile 1977)

    Posted 5 days ago +5
  • darragh


    Sorry I downvoted you by accident. I meant to upvote you.

    My apologies

    Posted 4 days ago +3
  • Pugol-H

    Undoubtedly there was cooperation with Chile during the liberation of the Falklands, but you can’t really blame them given Argentina’s long standing hostility towards them.

    No doubt most Chileans would have supported the government’s position.

    However, as usual, he offers no evidence to support his claims of exactly what went on.

    And let’s face it how would he know, better if he stuck to talking about what help Argentina had from the USSR.

    Posted 5 days ago +2
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