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LATIN AMERICA | 18-06-2024 10:43

Argentina starts removing solar panels from Chilean border

Chilean President Gabriel Boric pushes Argentina to act and remove solar panels at a southern military base that were erroneously installed on Chile’s side of border.

Argentina on Monday began removing solar panels that were installed by accident on the wrong side of its shared border with Chile, after a complaint from Chilean President Gabriel Boric.

In late April, Argentina’s Navy inaugurated a maritime surveillance post on the border with Chile in Patagonia.

But some of the solar panels, which provide energy to that military unit, were set up on the Chilean side of the frontier.

In a statement, the Argentine Navy acknowledged the mistake and said it had "transferred personnel and means to begin the removal of a solar panel installed in the territory of the sister republic of Chile, north of the Island of Tierra del Fuego."

The panels were installed "to the north of the housing modules, and following the boundary of the existing perimeter fence."

Once "the unintentional error was noticed," a contractor was employed "to remove them for their subsequent relocation within Argentine territory," read the statement.

Earlier in the day, Boric demanded that the panels be removed “as soon as possible” or Chile itself would do it.

"Borders are not something that can be ambiguous. It is a basic principle of respect between countries and therefore they must remove those solar panels as soon as possible or we are going to do it," Boric told reporters during a visit to Paris.

At the end of April, the Argentine Navy inaugurated the “Puesto de Vigilancia y Control de Tránsito Marítimo Hito 1” ("Hito 1 Maritime Transit Control and Surveillance Post") on the border with Chile, in the Patagonia region. 

Assigned to Argentina’s Navy, the site was built with donations from private companies. 

However, the solar panels that provide energy to this military unit were installed on the Chilean side of the border area.

President Javier Milei’s government had initially said it would remove the panels “as soon as weather conditions permit,” but were forced to take immediate action.

Chilean media reported Monday that Argentina’s Embassy in Santiago had admitted to the error in a note to the government.

Chile and Argentina share an extensive border of about 5,000 kilometres (more than 3,000 miles).

In 1978, when both countries were ruled by dictatorships, they came close to war over a dispute over islands in the Beagle Channel at the southern tip of the continent. 

With troops deployed on both sides of the border, the dispute was resolved in Chile's favour with the mediation of Pope John Paul II.

 

– TIMES/AFP
 

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