May Pacts (1902)

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May Pacts (1902)

The Pactos de Mayo were a series of four diplomatic treaties between Chile and Argentina negotiated in 1902. Since the mid-nineteenth century, Buenos Aires and Santiago had disputed the location of their common border. The arguments became so hostile that both nations began modernizing their armies as well as engaging in a costly naval arms race in preparation for war. Great Britain convinced the two countries to negotiate a settlement, which resulted in the Pactos de Mayo.

The treaties achieved several goals: they established a mechanism for the peaceful settlement of the outstanding boundary issues and ended the naval competition by setting a rough parity between the two nations' fleets. More significantly, each country recognized the other's hegemony on its own coasts: Argentina promised not to intervene in the Pacific basin, and Chile respected Argentina's domination of the Atlantic. Thus, the treaties not only provided a mechanism for resolving their long-festering border dispute, they also recognized the rights of the signatories in their respective spheres of influence, thereby avoiding future possible irritants to international peace.

See alsoArgentina: The Nineteenth Century; Chile: The Nineteenth Century.


Luis Galdames, A History of Chile (1941), pp. 406-407.

Robert N. Burr, By Reason or Force: Chile and the Balancing of Power in South America, 1830–1905 (1965), pp. 252-256.

                                           William F. Sater