Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The recent announcement by the British Foreign Office that it will make a formal claim to the United Nations to demand sovereignty over all Antarctic territory between the longitudes of 80°West and 20°West has alarmed the Chilean government.

On Oct. 24 a Chilean Congressional committee traveled to the Antarctic to make an inspection of Chile´s bases in the continent with the planet's largest reserves of oil (estimated at 60 billion barrels), natural gas, coal and fresh water.

The most important bases are the General Bernardo O´Higgins Base that is administered by the Army and the Lieutenant Marsh Air Force base (that has the most important landing strip in the area). There are two scientific bases, the President Eduardo Frei meteorological base and the Professor Julio Escudero Base, which is run by the Chilean Antarctic Institute, where important experiments regarding the ozone layer are carried out.

The Arturo Prat Naval base that had been closed in 2004 will be reopened and the Chilean government has granted the Navy a total of US$150 million to continue activity at that installation until 2024. Based on the work of Professor Julio Escudero, on Nov. 6, 1940 the Chilean Congress approved Law Decree N°1.747.

This decree states that "Chile has sovereignty over all Antarctic territory, including islands, reefs, glaciers and others to be discovered and its corresponding territorial waters between the limit formed by the meridian of longitude 53°West of Greenwich and longitude 90°West of Greenwich."

Until now Chile´s most serious conflict was with neighboring Argentina, that has claimed territory between longitude 25°West and 74°West, but now the situation is more complex due to the British claim that must be presented to the United Nations by May 2009.

According to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, all the before mentioned natural resources can only be exploited as from 2048, so this seems to be the main reason why the British government has shown such sudden interest in the area. According to the Chilean version the South American country has most rights to the area due to the legal concept of "Uti Possedetis", whereby the country had won its independence from the Kingdom of Spain in 1818, after 300 years of colonial rule.

A Chilean naval mission was sent in 1820 to hunt for seals, and ironically was captained by a Scotsman called Andrew MacFarlane. Along with his crew of Chilean sailors MacFarlane was the first to land in the Antartica as proven by the captain's log kept by Robert Fildes of the "Cora of Liverpool."

In November of 1820 Fildes wrote that his ship came into contact with the "Dragon of Valparaiso" and was told by Captain Macfarlane said that the Chilean ship had been in the area for the past seven weeks and had even landed at Deception Island.

Another important episode that proves Chilean presence in the Antarctica occurred in 1916 as a British expedition commanded by Ernest Shackleton became stranded in the ice aboard its ship, the "Endurance" that finally sank in November of that year.

With five other crew members Shackleton set off in a safety boat to the South Georgia Islands, the Falkland Islands and Uruguay, but failed to get help to rescue his remaining 17 comrades. Shackleton then traveled to the port of Punta Arenas, where the Chilean navy organized an expedition headed by Pilot Luis Pardo that rescued the men on Aug. 30, 1916 under temperatures of minus 24° Celsius.

Pardo's ship returned to Punta Arenas five days later and was given a heroes welcome by the population and by many foreign press reporters that had traveled to cover the event due to the international interest of the story.

The British government offered to pay Pardo a reward of 25,000 pounds for saving Shackleton and his crew but the Chilean officer did not accept the sum and that stated that he had only "carried out his duty." Pilot Luis Pardo was promoted by the Chilean navy and in 1919 was appointed Consul in Liverpool, England.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chile Recovers Form with Victory over Peru

Second matchday of S.American qualifiers

The Chilean national team defeated its Peruvian counterpart by 2-0 on October 17 at the National Stadium in Santiago. Both teams were under pressure to obtain a positive result since the visiting team had only gotten a goalless draw against Paraguay while the Chileans had traveled to Buenos Aires where they lost 2-0 to Argentina. Chile was lucky to score after only eleven minutes of play due to a header by Humberto Suazo. Peru tried to counterattack but some good saves by local goalkeeper Claudio Bravo prevented the equalizing goal. The final result was obtained in the 54th minute after a good pass by Arturo Vidal (currently playing for Bayer Leverkusen of Germany) was finished off with a hard low shot by Matias Fernandez that sent the ball into the net. This positive result has calmed down the 60,000 fans that showed up at the stadium and the local press that expect more than average results from the national team specially after the spectacular signing of coach Marcelo Bielsa. The former Argentina coach has also become the best paid coach in South America with a yearly salary of US$1.5 million and after the match described the performance of the Chilean national team as "acceptable". Even if the team won three points for the victory, the general opinion is that the players must improve if they want to qualify for the 2010 Fifa World Cup that will be held in South Africa. Chile’s next matches will be on November 17 in Montevideo against Uruguay and on Nov. 21 in Santiago against Paraguay.
On Oct. 16, Argentina defeated the home team Venezuela by 2-0 , and is now the leader in the points table with 6 points. On Wednesday night at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil crushed Ecuador by 5-0, while in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, the home team beat Uruguay by 1-0 and in La Paz, Bolivia could only draw 0-0 with Colombia.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Qualifying matches for 2010 World Cup begin in South America

Argentina and Uruguay score three points in first match

Another grueling series of matches began for the ten South American countries on October 13 in different stadiums throughout the continent. For the next two years, the national teams of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela must play a total of 18 matches (one at home and the other away) against each of the other nine countries. The match that attracted the most attention was that played between Argentina and Chile in Buenos Aires on Saturday afternoon. The Chilean national team arrived with optimism at the Monumental Stadium in the Argentine capital due to its recent successful tour in Europe where it showed good form by losing narrowly by 2-1 to Switzerland and beating Austria by 2-0. Also the Chilean fans counted on the experience of the new coach, Marcelo Bielsa, to lead the players to a historic first ever win against its traditional rivals. However, the former coach of Argentina from 1998 to 2002 was unable to guide the team to put up an effective match strategy and after 26 minutes was already losing thanks to a precise free kick goal scored by Juan Roman Riquelme. Also the refereeing had a negative impact on the Chilean team since by the end of the first half five players had been yellow carded. In the last minute of the first half Riquelme scored yet another free kick, nearly identical to the first goal, to strike another blow to the visiting team's morale.
The fate of the match was sealed after ten minutes of the second half as Chilean defender Christian Alvarez was sent off due to a second yellow card.
The Chilean team returned on the same night from Buenos Aires and immediately went to the football federation's training center in Santiago to prepare for the next match to be played on October 17 at the National Stadium against Peru. The Peruvians also had a bad start to their campaign since in Lima they were only able to get a 0-0 draw against Paraguay. Now both teams are under pressure to get a positive result, specially Chile that will be playing in front of its home crowd, while the Peruvian Football Federation has promised to pay an undisclosed amount in prize money to each player in case they defeat Chile.
Two hours before the match in Buenos Aires, Uruguay scored its first three points as it defeated Bolivia by 5-0 at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo.The surprise result of the fixture was the 0-1 home defeat by Ecuador at the hands of Venezuela, traditionally the weakest South American national team. Later on in neighboring Bogota, the Colombian capital, the home team was unable to defeat five time World Champions Brazil and ended with one point after a goalless draw. On Oct. 16 Venezuela will be visited by Argentina, while on Oct 17. Brazil will play host to Ecuador, Colombia will travel to play against Bolivia and Paraguay will receive Uruguay.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Formula 1 Set for Thrilling Final in Brazil


With 25 laps remaining in the Chinese Grand Prix held on September 7 in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton of the McClaren Mercedes team made an incredible mistake as he entered the entry lane for a pitstop. Hamilton was surely going to change his set of tires that were completely worn out, but instead lost control of his car and ended up in a gravel area on the side of the lane. Due to the worn out tires, Hamilton´s car was unable to get out of that uneven surface and so the British driver had to abandon the race. It was expected that Hamilton would win this year's Formula 1 championship at Shanghai, but after this result the winner will only be decided on October 21 at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The race at Shanghai was won by Kimi Raikkonen of the Ferrari team, second was Fernando Alonso (McClaren) and third was Felipe Massa , also of the Ferrari team. It is interesting to note that even if Hamilton and Alonso are on the same team, they have become bitter rivals due to personal differences and will fight each other until the end in Interlagos, specially Alonso, that wants to win his third driver's championship.
Raikkonen´s victory at Shanghai was also the 200th in the history of the Ferrari racing team and now the stage is set for a spectacular finish to the 2007 F1 championship. In the driver's championship, Lewis Hamilton is first on the table with 107 points, followed closely by Fernando Alonso with 103 and Kimi Raikkonen with 100.
According to F! experts, these are some of the the options to decide this year´s champion:
Lewis Hamilton will be champion if......
He wins at Interlagos.
He finishes in second place.
He ends in 3rd, 4th or 5thplace and Fernando Alonso does not win.
He ends in 6th or 7th place, Alonso is not in first two places. and Raikkonen does not win.

Fernando Alonso will be champion if.....
He wins at Interlagos and Hamilton does not come in second place.
He is second and Hamilton is not among first five.
He is third, Hanilton is not among top seven and Raikkonen does not win

Kimi Raikkonen will be champion if.......
He wins at Interlagos, Alonso is second and Hamilton is not among first six places.

He is second but Alonso does not get into the first five places and Hamilton does not score any points.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pinochet Family Arrested in Chile

Along with 13 military officers and 4 civilians

Just when most Chilean citizens had thought the Pinochet case had been forgotten by the local justice system, 23 people were arrested on Oct 4 by members of the Civilian police (known as Investigaciones).

At 7.00 a.m. the officers raided Pinochet`s mansión in the posh La Dehesa suburb and arrested the former Chilean dictators`s wife, Lucia Hiriart of 87 years of age. Due to the shock caused by the forceful entry of the police into her home, Mrs. Hiriart suffered an increase in her blood pressure and was taken in an ambulante to Santiago`s military hospital.
Simultaneously in other areas of the city, Investigaciones arrested Pinochet´s sons , Augusto and Marco Antonio and two daughters, Lucia, Jacqueline, and Verónica. All were taken to the Independencia Headquarters in downtown Santiago in police cars.

According to Judge Cerda, there is enough evidence to accuse the Pinochet family of having stolen approximately US$ 8.3 million from a state institution known as “Casa Militar” (Military House) , a Branch of the Army that must distribute funds to military personnel that are on missions in provincial regiments or in diplomatic embassies abroad. It is alleged that for two years (during the eighties) , Marco Antonio and his wife were paid a monthly allowance of US$30.000 while they were living in the United States.

Also several high ranking military officers were arrested in relation to the “Casa Militar” case, such as General Jorge Ballerino that was in charge of the “Casa Militar” from 1981 to 1984, Genaro Ramon Castro, a former assistant to Pinochet and General Guillermo Garin, former vicecommander of the Chilean army and also in charge of Casa Militar in 1985.
Among the most important civilians are Oscar Aitken,Pinochet`s financial adviser, Monica Ananias (personal secretary) and Coronel Gustavo Collao,(defense lawyer in human rights cases). The men were transferred at 16:00 hours local time to Santiago Uno, the new jail inaugurated last year, while the women were taken to the “Feminine Detention Center”.

Judge Carlos Cerda also investigates the origin of a bank account of US$28 million that was discovered in 2002 at the Riggs National Bank in Washington D.C.since there may be a connection with the funds diverted from “Casa Militar”.