December 21, 2014
Chile Defence minister not proud of role in Malvinas
Jorge Burgos says military era was ‘a different time’
Chile’s Defence minister tried to repair a 32-year-old grudge with Argentina yesterday by claiming that the majority of Chileans were not proud of their country’s behavior during the 1982 Malvinas War.
“This is an incident that occurred in a moment in time very different from the relationship that exists now between Chile and Argentina,” said Jorge Burgos, who heads the Defence Ministry under the administration of Socialist President Michelle Bachelet.
He believed that the issue would not affect the current bilateral relations between both countries.
“I think that a good part of the Argentine people are not proud of their (military) governments’ past behaviour either,” Burgos said.
His statements — made to Chilean daily La Tercera — came weeks after British officials said that they wouldn’t have won the war without Chile’s support and caused a small uproar in Chilean politics, as former and current pro-Pinochet politicians reacted to the statements.
“There’s no need to ask for forgiveness from Argentina over the Malvinas War. They triggered the war by invading (the islands). Chile did not use military force and we supported Argentina via all the international organizations,” claimed the last dictatorship’s foreign minister Hernán Felipe Errázuriz.
A senator from the Pinochet-inspired Democratic Independent Union (UDI) party, Víctor Pérez, also rejected the minister’s statements.
“We are proud of what we did in that era, which was to maintain peace,” Pérez said.
The recent debate over Chile’s role in the Malvinas War had been reignited last month when a former British Air Force official, Sidney Edwards, acknowledged that “without the collaboration of Chile’s last dictatorship, they wouldn’t have won the war. Edwards said the Chilean dictatorship had helped the British out of pragmatism.
“In other words, General Matthei, General (Augusto) Pinochet and high-ranking cabinet members realized that if Argentina had won the Malvinas islands and the war, their next step would have been to invade the Beagle channel’s islands,” Edwards said.
He also claimed that the chilean military leaders had seen it as an opportunity to improve the quality of their armed forces, because the British were able to provide new equipment and training.
On November 29, the 30-year anniversary of the treaty of peace and friendship that ended the conflict between Chile and Argentina over the Beagle channel will be commemorated during joint ceremonies in both countries.
Herald staff with online media