News & Analysis
Chile Worries About Potential Argentine Military Provocations
Argentina should adopt us, say Chile protesters ... Demonstrators from remote Aysén region make appeal to neighbouring country over lack of services from own government ... Police in Santiago clash with protesters supporting the Aysén region, where demonstrators have asked Argentina to take up their cause Protesters in a remote region of Chile have triggered controversy by asking Argentina to "adopt" them because they feel forgotten by Chile's government ... Requesting annexation by Argentina appeared an attempt to catch Chilean state attention rather than a serious proposal for secession but the idea still provoked derision from its neighbour. Readers of Clarín, a Buenos Aires daily, scorned the invitation on the grounds Chile supported Britain during the 1982 Falklands conflict. "Why don't you ask England to adopt you? They are your best friends and allies!" said one typical comment. It was the latest sign that the diplomatic row between London and Buenos Aires over the disputed islands has focused Argentinian grievances before the conflict's 30th anniversary. Another reader called Chileans "dirty traitors" for having aided the British task force which seized the archipelago back from Argentina. Another defended Chileans, pointing out that it was the dictator Augusto Pinochet who helped Margaret Thatcher, not the Chilean people. – UK Guardian
Dominant Social Theme: Ancient tensions between Argentina and Chile will not erupt again.
Free-Market Analysis: The southern half of South America is bracing for an Argentine devaluation. People are readying for the worst. Last time it happened was more than ten years ago, around the turn of the century. It wasn't pretty then and it won't be pretty now. It could cause significant political as well as monetary damage.
According to some Daily Bell sources, top officials are concerned about Argentina's increasing belligerence on the world stage. This is epitomized by the ongoing takeover of Spanish YPF oil, which has made headlines around the globe.
Chile and Argentina almost went to war back in the 1970s, and while the situation between the two countries is not nearly so grave now, there is always the possibility of renewed military tension.
In fact, political tension has spiked upwards as a result of Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's determined takeover of Spanish-owned YPF.
De Kirchner's moves are widely seen as playing to popular sentiment in Argentina – providing an opening ultimately for further whipping up of public opinion against real and imagined enemies.
This is the way populist regimes work and why they often descend over time into outright dictatorships. As the "enemies" add up so does the energy necessary to sustain the narrative. Eventually it is easier simply to take over and silence critics instead of spending time and energy answering them, often unconvincingly.
There is no doubt that de Kirchner's reign is an increasingly populist one and that she is attempting to stimulate the affections of her voting base by stirring up nationalist sentiments. Confiscation of "gringo" enterprises is one methodology and another, predictably, is the manufacturing of an outside military threat.
De Kirchner's political model is her now-departed husband and previous Argentine president, but both she and her husband admired Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Chavez is a certainly a populist leader who has used all the tools at his disposal to galvanize public opinion in his favor.
In fact, Chavez spent a good deal of time cultivating tensions with Colombia before the Colombian regime changed and Chavez himself fell ill with cancer. It is the logic of populism itself that is making Chile's leaders edgy. What begins with expropriation continues with various sorts of military incitement.
It is not exactly a far-fetched prediction, either, to predict an increasingly truculent Argentine regime, as de Kirchner has already re-ignited the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty row with Britain. Chile officials, sources say, wonder if their country may be next.
There is precedent. It is historical fact that Argentina's generals once intended to invade Chile via Operación Soberanía (Operation Sovereignty). This was to take place on the 22nd of December 1978 as part of a larger conflict over Patagonia's Beagle Islands and channel.
Famously, John Paul II intervened at the last moment to mediate the impending war. The papal mediation between the two rulers of the time – military dictators Generals Jorge Videla and Augusto Pinochet – avoided a shooting war. Successful negotiations commenced in Uruguay and a treaty was finally signed in 1984, establishing borderlines.
Conclusion: The dominoes are falling one after the other now, and nobody can really say for certain where it will end.