The Stranger Than Fiction Story Behind Antarctica’s First Citizen
Basically, Argentina and Chile are fought over Antarctica like two stubborn divorcees.
You thought the Age of Imperialism was over? THINK AGAIN.
Argentina and Chile have been desperately competing over Antarctica since the 1940s. No one owns the land or has actual sovereignty, though many countries are involved in this clusterfuck of overlapping territories. Is it OK for Argentina to lay siege and assert dominance over Antarctica? Should anyone really own it if it’s just a barren wasteland?
Antarctica’s statehood is complicated.
Like, Kardashian-Jenner family tree complicated. Basically, no one and everyone owns it. Nations have been staking claims since the 1940s, but the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 was signed by 45 countries and blocked any one nation from trying to take over the winter wonderland.
Everyone has pretty much dropped their claims except for Chile and Argentina, who say the Antarctic Peninsula is a continuation of the Andes Mountains.
They also claim sovereignty from when the Spanish Empire claimed Chile, Argentina and Antarctic in 1493 (which would mean Antarctica belongs to…Spain…).
Even with this solution, Argentina and Chile are STILL bitching about who owns the barren wasteland that serves literally no purpose.
There are reserves of coal and oil, but the amount is unknown. There are also other minerals but mining for that and extracting coal and oil is illegal AND too dangerous due to the harsh climate. Essentially, they are fighting over land that serves no purpose and are WASTING TAXPAYER DOLLARS in this conquest.
Since it’s illegal to straight up take over, Argentina and Chile came up with a weird ass solution: BABIES.
Yes, babies. The two countries collectively decided (without ANY international support) that whoever had a baby from their country born in Antarctica first would get to be the ruler of Antarctica. Sounds like a dumb bet a bunch of middle schoolers would make, right?
Meanwhile, the rest of the world may not be taking OVER Antarctica, but they have set up national bases on various parts of the continent.
France, Australia, Russia, Japan, India, South Africa, Germany, The U.K. and also Argentina and Chile have bases there. These bases are mostly scientific research facilities, but they complicate things. The research facilities’ lands overlap each other because no one ACTUALLY owns the land, which makes scientific research and map-making difficult. This would become an even murkier situation if Argentina or Chile officially declared sovereignty.
Back to Argentina and Chile’s Space War, except instead of sending astronauts to space, they’re sending babies to Antarctica.
In 1978, Argentina took a local pregnant woman to Antarctica’s Esperanza base, just so she could give birth to her son on Antarctic soil.
The mother’s name is Silvia Morello de Palma and her son is Emilio Palma, who’s the first person to be born in Antarctica. He’s 38 now. Right after Emilio was born, the Argentine government passed a law banning any maps of Argentina that DIDN’T include Antarctica.
And so Chile said, “oh, that’s all you got?!” and sent over a dozen couples to Antarctica so they could make and birth babies on frozen soil.
Basically in response to Argentina’s “first baby born in Antarctica” win, Chile one-upped with the first babies CONCEIVED and born in Antarctica. TAKE THAT, SUCKERS!
Unsurprisingly, both countries are now pulling the “My baby was there first!” card.
Despite their commitment to gaining sovereignty, Argentina and Chile’s petty bullshit easily disputable claims remain ignored by the international community.
And so for now, Antarctica remains a place for scientific exploration and adorable penguin selfies.