This is an interesting study of the Chilean occupation of the Strait of Magellan and of the efforts to settle southern Patagonia below the Santa Cruz River. It does not purport to be a history of the diplomatic negotiations between Argentina and Chile for control of Patagonia. It seeks, rather, to present an analysis of Chilean interests in the area in terms of Chilean internal politics. The analysis is weak. Chilean interest was never well developed at best, and it resulted in the abandonment of her claim to Patagonia.

After devoting a chapter to Chile’s colonial claim to the region, the author goes on to trace the sporadic Chilean presence in Patagonia from the establishment of Fuerte Bulnes in 1843 down to the negotiations with Argentina in 1881. In doing so he makes several major points which he feels resulted in Chilean loss of the territory. He contends that Chilean officials viewed the occupation of the Straits and the maintenance of a colony there with no other objective than that of facilitating and fomenting navigation and international maritime trade. In following this policy, he argues, Chile gave up her rights of territorial sovereignty. Moreover, Chile failed to make effective use of her establishment at Punta Arenas in a policy of penetration and expansion into Patagonia.

Martinic’s greatest attack on Chilean policy is leveled at individuals whose lack of vision and interest led to what he calls a sacrifice of Patagonia. José Victoriano Lastarria, Diego Barros Arana, and Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna were, in the author’s mind, those who had been most culpable in blinding official policy toward Patagonia.

Although Martinic makes little point of the fact, it is significant that the abandonment of Chilean interest and occupation of Patagonia took place in 1879. Chile had turned toward the Atacama. Mining fever had captured the official and public imagination.