ARGENTINA IN ANTARCTICA
The Argentine Antarctica or the Argentine Antarctic Sector, that we consider as a part of our national territory, is included in an extended area over the southern extreme, where particular environmental conditions –that are different from those of South America- are prevailing and have an important influence on human presence and activities. On the other hand, this area is submitted to a special juridical regime whose territorial extent includes the whole area south of 60º S.
The Antarctic portion is delimitated by meridians 25º and 74º W and the parallel 60º S, and makes part of the former National Territory of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Shetland Islands, established by the decree-law Nº 2129 on February 28, 1957, a province law today. Province Authorities are settled in Ushuaia and the Governor designates annually a delegate for the Antarctic area, who represents the civil power in the region.
The Argentina presence in the Argentine Sector, accordingly to the "criollos" seal-hunters and to the historical research, started during the second decade of the XIX century; someone even states that it started in the end of the former century. From Buenos Aires harbor, vessels sailed to the so-called at present South Shetland Island in search of their preys. The secret kept by our seal-hunters made that the discovery of these lands was unknown for many time and consequently attributed to navigators from other countries.
In the end of the XIX century and at the beginning of this century the support offered by our country to foreign expeditions, in particular those of Nordenskjöld, de Gerlache and Charcot, were duly appreciated, as a result a series of Argentinean names put to geographic accidents: Uruguay Island, Argentinas, Roca, Quintana Islands, among others.
In 1904 the permanent occupation of the Argentine Antarctica starts with the hoist of the Argentinean flag at Orcadas Station, on February the 22th of this same year.
It is convenient to point out that for 40 years the Argentine was the only permanent occupant of the Antarctic, such a fact that represents the best of our claims of sovereignity in the area.
The Argentine presence in Antarctica has already 100 years, a record of which we are proud. Government and administrative acts have been frequents in relation with our activities and in defense of Argentine rights. Among the most relevant legal dispositions we can mention the decree of President Roca in 1904 by which the Meteorological Argentine Antarctic Observatory is set created, the decree of 1951 establishing the Instituto Antártico Argentino, the decree-law 2191, that fixes the boundaries of the Antarctic Sector, and the law 18.513 of 1969 creating the Dirección Nacional del Antártico. Besides these provisions and since the entry in force of the Antarctic Treaty, there are also a number of recommendations approved by the Argentine Government that were adopted at each Antarctic Consultative Meeting.
Sovereignty claims of our country on this sector are multiple. Main claims are as follows: 1. geographical and geological continuity, 2. Historical heritage coming from Spain, 3. Seal-hunting activities since their starting in the area; 4. Standing occupation of a scientific station running since the beginning of the century until the present: the Meteorological and Magnetic Observatory of South Orkney Islands, inaugurated in 1904; 5. The installation and maintenance of other temporary stations in the Antarctic peninsula and nearby islands, as well as in the Filchner ice shelf, as well as a number of shelters in different spots of the sector; 6. Exploration works, scientific and cartographical surveys on a regular basis; 7. Installation and management of lighthouses and aid to navigation; 8. Rescue, help or support tasks, such as the saving at the beginning of the XIX century of the eminent Swedish explorer and scientist Otto Nordenskjöld and his crew, the rescue of a sick man and an victim of an accident, both Englishmen from the distant Fossil Bluff Station; 9. Argentine presence on land, sea and air in the whole Sector, including the South Pole, reached for three times alternatively by Navy and Air Force aircrafts and by the terrestrial Army expedition so-called Operation 90.