Appropriations and military excursions: Argentine activity near Aysén

AYSÉN – After 23 Argentine soldiers had spent two weeks on Campo de Hielo Sur, El Mercurio reports today that Argentina has included parts of the same area under its flag. In a document, called the First National Inventory of Glaciers, Argentina claims in a map large part of disputed area between borders of the two countries. The claimed area had the status of being ´no man´s land´, following an agreement from 1998.

National newspaper El Mercurio found out that the inventory, presented during an exhibition in Lima, Peru, wasn´t following the borders as agreed on in 1998. A Chilean expert found out there was an overlap when comparing the Argentine maps with the official documentation of the Directorate of Borders and Boundaries of Chile (Difrol).

Campo de Hielo Sur, in the deep south of Chile, is part of Patagonia and is one of the worlds biggest ice fields. Parts of the area are undefined, meaning that they don´t belong to neither Chile nor Argentina. In 1998, the two governments agreed to not claim the area until a 1:50 000 scale map of the area had come out.

In 2006, Argentina had already claimed part of the disputed border area in an official map, which they later withdrew after critics from Chile. At the moment, Argentina has 3,421 km2 of land in the Campo de Hielo Sur area. however, 1,441 km2 remain disputed.

Argentina military activity

For two weeks, from the 20th of September until the 4th of October, an excursion of 23 Argentine soldiers had taken place in the disputed area. The military men, whose activity provoked discomfort among Chilean citizens living in Villa O’Higgins in the Aysén region, marched and camped for days in the area. The mayor of Villa O´Higgins, Roberto Recabal, called the operation a provocation.

In an Argentine publication, the officer in charge of the operation stated that “the expedition marks a new precedent with the presence of the Argentine Army in our Southern Ice Field amid the immensity of irregular ice, developing the integration between soldiers of different regions “.

Meanwhile, the Chilean army is prohibited to enter the disputed zone by the Foreign Ministry. During the presidency of Ricardo Lagos, Chilean air forces had been flying over the area, causing the Argentine government to protest.

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