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LATIN AMERICA | 17-06-2024 14:53

Boric demands action from Argentina in row over military base border

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

Chile's President Gabriel Boric on Monday demanded that Argentina "as soon as possible" remove solar panels from a military base that were "mistakenly" installed on the Chilean side of the border.

"Borders are not something with which you can have ambiguities and that 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," the president told journalists in Paris, where he is on an overseas visit.

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.

After sending a formal letter warning of the violation, Boric has now chosen to intervene publicly.

"I imagine that we are not going to have problems in this regard, but it is an equivocal signal, a signal that we do not like and therefore what we demand is that this is resolved in the shortest possible time and I insist, if we are not going to do it ourselves," said Boric.

Chile’s Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren, said that "Argentina recognised a mistake and apologised for it.”

However, Argentina’s Ambassador to Chile Jorge Faurie said that it would not be possible for Argentina to immediately apologise for the mistake.

"It was a material error because the company that installed the solar panels is a company that donated the panels, which was guided by a wire fence of a ranch in the area," the diplomat explained.

The Navy "should have been guided by the satellite coordinates that demarcate limits," he added.

"They will be removed as soon as weather conditions permit," he told the La Nación newspaper.

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 some 5,000 kilometres.  

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/NA
 

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