The imminent arrival of Prince William in the Falkland Islands for a 6 week deployment is sure to stir up unpleasant sentiment in the neighborhood. As well as having the 117 uncleared minefields to contend with, Wills has attracted the icy glare of Argentina who have condemned his military posting as a “provocative act”.
The bitter conflict back in mid 1982 saw significant casualties on both sides - with the agressors Argentina ultimately failed to hold their occupation of the islands. But what was the involvement of Argentina’s long bordered neighbor around this time?
Whilst outwardly claiming neutrality, it was long suspected, and recently confirmed, that Chile was providing access to bases and intelligence to the UK in return for cut price deals on military aircraft. In addition it is alleged that Chile considered starting a border offensive against Argentina in order to draw troops away from the Falklands.
Pinochet had good reason to form a strategic alliance with the UK as Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri had made bold threats to take over all southern disputed islands currently under Chile rule. It was thought by Chilean intelligence that a victory in the Falklands would lead directly to an attack on Chile - this was later confirmed by the former chief of the Argentine Air Force.
So a sneaky move by Thatcher to covertly form an alliance with a man synonymous with human rights abuses. And a smart move from Pinochet, who managed to obtain sweet deals on a fleet of Hawker Hunter bombers and three reconnaissance planes - all at a time when there was a UN arms embargo on such sales.