Editor’s Note – Well off the beaten path, and certainly not front page news, the Falklands Islands issue continues to heat up. In 1982, it was a full blown war, though undeclared by either side – after Argentina seized the remote Malvinas as they refer to them, the British launched a mission to reclaim them.
The air, sea, and land battles did not last long, but they were quite bloody, and the action was quite spectacular. 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the conflict.
There has been a dual claim to the islands dating back to the 19th century, and since the 1982 war, Argentina has created many laws regarding the islands. Included in the mix are the islands of South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands.
The main argument now is who controls the waters where oil may exist. Exploration continues despite the dispute, and now British ships are banned from all Argentine ports. This severely curtails exploration by the British due to the remoteness of the islands in dispute.
Ships flying the British ensign have been banned from docking in Argentina’s largest province under a new law passed yesterday.
By Jonathan Gilbert in Buenos Aires – The Telegraph
The legislature of Buenos Aires province voted to prohibit vessels sailing under the British flag from “mooring, loading or carrying out logistical operations” in any of its ports.
The bill was brought forward by Patricia Cubría, a deputy belonging to President Cristina Kirchner’s Front for Victory coalition. It was nicknamed ‘Gaucho Rivero’ after Antonio Rivero, nicknamed the ‘Gaucho’, an Argentine cowboy who led an uprising in the Falkland Islands against the British in 1833.
“He fought so that the Argentine flag could fly in the Falklands,” Ms Cubría said.
The law is designed to hinder British ships involved in oil exploration in waters belonging to the islands and will be seen as the latest in a series of provocations in the run up to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Buenos Aires province is the largest in Argentina and is home to nearly 40 per cent of the country’s population as well as its most important ports. Last year the South American trading bloc Mercosur – which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – decided to shut its ports to ships flying the Falklands flag.
The Argentine government began legal action in June against five British exploration companies operating around the Falklands. Ships linked to British military or logistical activity are also banned by the law.
“It is a tool that continues our fight for the sovereignty and natural resources of the Malvinas [the name for the islands in Spanish],” Ms Cubría said. Last year, two ships, thought to be British and headed to the Falklands in search of oil, docked in the port of La Plata, close to the city of Buenos Aires, sparking mass protests.
It was later revealed they were Norwegian vessels contracted by Argentina. In December, countries belonging to South American trade bloc Mercosur closed their ports to ships flying the Falklands flag. Two P&O cruise liners were also banned from docking in Argentina in February after they visited the islands.
The British embassy in Buenos Aires did not immediately return a request for comment.