Solar panel on Chilean border to be relocated soon, government says

Ambassador to Chile Jorge Faurie claimed that the mishap took place because installers ‘didn’t pay enough attention’

A solar panel belonging to an Argentine military base that  was installed three meters into Chilean territory will be removed soon, the government said on Tuesday. The announcement came after Chilean President Gabriel Boric publicly urged Argentina to do so.

Argentine Ambassador to Chile Jorge Faurie said works to relocate the solar panel — part of a set of four panels used to provide electricity to a navy watch post — will begin on Tuesday.

“The workers [that installed them] didn’t pay enough attention,” Faurie told radio Mitre on Tuesday morning, adding that he expects them to be completed quickly.

On Monday, Boric publicly called on Argentina to respect the Chilean border during a press conference at the Ukraine Peace Summit. “[Argentina] must remove those panels at once, or we’ll do it ourselves,” he said.

The Argentine embassy in Chile sent the Chilean authorities a note last week acknowledging the mistake, saying the panels would be removed as soon as the weather conditions allowed it. Faurie also recognized the mishap during an interview with Chilean radio station BioBio but said the removal “would have to wait until summer.”

Argentine authorities, however, quickly took action after Boric’s public call, potentially halting the diplomatic tension from escalating. President Javier Milei has initiated several diplomatic conflicts with other presidents and political leaders since coming into office, particularly with Pedro Sánchez (Spain), Gustavo Petro (Colombia), and Xi Jinping (China).

Faurie said on Tuesday that Argentina and Chile have “excellent relationships,” adding that Boric answered “the way a president is expected to answer when being asked about territorial defense” when he spoke about the solar panels.

The Argentine Navy released a communiqué on Monday afternoon following Boric’s statement saying they had started sending personnel and resources to the border in order to remove the solar panel. They called the situation an “involuntary mistake.”

The solar panels in question are located at a navy watch post that was inaugurated on April 29. It is a strategic spot, given that it’s located at the eastern access to the Strait of Magellan, a navigable sea route in southern Patagonia that separates mainland South America and Tierra del Fuego. It is considered the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Argentina and Chile have a history of tension over border disputes in Patagonia.

Last week, Faurie said that the installation company failed to properly check what the border limits were and that they should have used satellite coordinates. “They used the fence of a nearby ranch as a guide,” he noted.

He added that the Argentine offered to provide a nearby Chilean military post with electricity from the panels, but that Chilean authorities had rejected it.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald