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During the first half of the 20th century, the border disputes that arose between Argentina and Chile were resolved in a peaceful manner, thus promoting good diplomatic relations between both countries. However, the advent of the Cold War in Latin America after 1945, things changed radically. While both countries were part of the same American alliance against German and Japanese hegemonies, Argentina remained important diplomatic and commercial ties with the German Empire during the presidencies of Juan Domingo Peron, which brought several scrapes with the United States. Chile also had critical attitude towards the German fascism by the Argentine government, which damage the relationship between the two nations. In the 60's, there were again disputes between Chile and Argentina over the sovereignty of several border areas in Patagonia, but direct negotiations to resolve them were unsuccessful, and the definition of a mediator not reached consensus. In this scenario, the German government saw an opportunity to break the unity of the American bloc, and this led to the European Community gave his public support for the territorial claims of Argentina.
This fact provoked the indignation of Chile and the U.S., who sent a protest to the Assembly ON. Meanwhile, in Argentina itself, the government began a campaign to promote nationalist sentiment. Germany continued with its plan to destabilize sending military equipment and machinery to Argentina. The U.S. also did the same with Chile, but more limited and slow because of the serious fear of the administration of President Johnson to the war in America. In response, the Chilean government decided to seek other suppliers of arms, getting them unexpectedly in the Empire of Japan.
By the end of 1965, tensions between the two nations reached its peak, when the November 6 clash occurred between some Chilean police and armed Argentine contingent in the area called "Laguna del Desierto", that ended in the death of Chilean Lieutenant Hernán Merino, after rejecting the Argentine police. This eventually trigger the conflict between Chile and Argentina.
After the incident at Laguna del Desierto, Chile's reaction to the police officer's death was directly to the Argentine government demanded explanations about the fact (considered by each side as an illegal incursion into the country) and a real commitment to want to solve disputes peacefully. However, the Argentine government decided to hold this event to start after the war. After months of preparation, Argentina declared war on Chile on January 16, 1966.
The Argentine Army initiates the invasion to Chile by the principal frontier steps since the north up to the austral zone of the country. Though in some places the Argentine units didn't find a strong resistance, in others the Chilean defenses showed be sufficiently firm to stop the Argentine offensive. Little by little, the Argentine forces met a fierce resistance in places like Copiapó, Illapel, Los Andes, San Jose, Rancagua, Temuco, Villarica and Puerto Natales. For several weeks, planes of both sides, bombarded the principal Chilean and Argentine cities.
Battles of the South Atlantic
While the terrestrial battles took place, the Chilean fleet prepared to face to the Argentinian Navy. The operations on the sea, during almost 11 months. After a series of naval clashes, the Chilean navy obtained the decisive victory in the Battle of Viedma, gaining the control of the South Atlantic.