Buenos Aires Passes its Own Ban on British Ships
On Thursday lawmakers in Buenos Aires province passed a bill to prohibit ships doing business with the Falkland Islands from mooring in the province’s ports. Argentina had already banned ships sailing under a Falkland Islands flag from making stops in any of the country’s ports, in an effort to discourage oil exploration in the area.
The country’s president, Cristina Fernandez has launched a campaign asserting Argentina’s claims to the British-ruled islands 30 years after the Falklands war. Despite her efforts, London continues to deny her requests for sovereignty talks. The bill, nicknamed ‘Gaucho Rivero’ was brought forward by Patricia Cubria, a deputy of President Kirchner’s Front for Victory coalition. Gaucho Rivero was the nickname of Antonio Rivero, an Argentine cowboy who led an uprising in the Falkland Islands against the British in 1833.
In June Argentina began legal action against five British oil and gas exploration companies operating in the Falklands, and the country says they will continue to pursue legal action against all exploration companies operating in the waters off the islands.
Thursday’s bill out of Buenos Aires was seen as somewhat symbolic as most ships en route to the Falklands rarely stop in Argentine ports. Officials say the bill aims to keep British and Falkland flagged vessels from obtaining supplies in Argentina that could be used in their exploration for oil and gas, and from “mooring, loading or carrying out logistical operations.” Other Argentine ports along the Atlantic are considering similar action.
Last year, Mercosur, a trading bloc between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela, supported the ban, blocking Falkland flagged ships from entering their ports.
The bill includes all British military and government vessel; however tourism vessel, such as cruise ships will not be impacted by the bill.
The 3,000 Falkland Islands residents plan to draft a referendum on whether they wish to stay part of Britain’s self-governing overseas territories, a step designed to bypass Argentina’s sovereignty claims.
Tensions between Britain and Argentina escalated when Prince William was sent to the Falkland Islands on a tour of duty back in February. Argentina’s foreign ministry called the prince a “conqueror” and a “pirate,” seeing his deployment to the area as a political provocation. Britain’s Chief of the Defence staff denied an intended provocation in deploying Prince William to the islands. Despite this, both sides have accused the other of colonial behavior, only adding fuel to the fire.
Last month, on the 30th anniversary of Britain’s victory in the Falklands War President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner appeared at the UN Decolonization Committee and accused Britain of abusing its power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and used the hearing to demand sovereignty talks. In response Britain’s Prime Minister told a reception in London there would be no negotiation and warned that Britain would defend the territory with force if necessary.
The latest ship ban is just another legal step for Argentina in preventing exploration around the islands.
PHOTO (thumb): A sign at the Argentine-Brazilian border, translated into English, proclaims "The Malvinas are Argentine". There are several signs like this in Argentina.