That may be changing. In a recent meeting at Punta Arenas, Argentina’s ambassador to Chile, Ginés González García, announced his government’s support for a measure that would make the Southern Cone’s southernmost extremes an area of “free movement of peoples.” There is no designated date for implementing the measure, but it seems to be a priority for both governments. Chile’s ambassador to Buenos Aires, Adolfo Zaldívar, was also present at the meeting.
Given the physical isolation of Magallanes from the rest of Chile, and the need for Argentines to travel overland through Chile to reach their side of the Isla Grande, any measure that improves communications in this region is a welcome one. According to Montevideo-based Mercopress, which reported the story, authorities were considering extended border hours of 24/7 during the peak season, and increasing personnel to handle the number of people crossing at that time.
What’s unclear is whether the ‘free movement” between Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego will extend to foreign visitors but, even if not, expedited services for Argentines and Chileans should speed things up significantly. The agreement may also expedite the creation of ferry service between Ushuaia (actually Puerto Almanza, about an hour east) and Puerto Williams (pictured above and below), which Mercopress suggests has already begun. My Ushuaia contact Alejandro Galeazzi, who runs a B&B in the city, informs me that “they are in negotiations to approve the crossing from Almanza to Puerto Williams, but the issue is still very fresh.”
Win This Book!
In honor of Argentine and Chilean efforts to improve communications between their most remote territories, I have decided to award a copy of the new third edition of Moon Handbooks Patagonia to the first person who can answer what I, at least, believe is a fairly simple question. What was the industry that first brought economic integration between the two countries in the Fuegian region, creating enormous fortunes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
Please send your answer to the following email address: southerncone (at) mac.com. If you have won in the past year, please stand aside and let someone else have a chance.