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Falklands 30 - Hotting Up Latest News.

Published: 08 Feb 2012

Argentina to complain to UN over 'militarisation' of Falklands.

Argentina will appeal to the United Nations to stop Britain's 'militarisation' of the Falklands Islands, Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, the Argentine president, announced last night.

In a speech to veterans of the Falklands War, Mrs Kirchner accused Britain of acting like a colonial power by deploying its most powerful warship - and the Duke of Cambridge - to the region.

'We can not interpret in any other way the deployment of an ultra-modern destroyer accompanying the heir to the throne, who we would prefer to see in civilian attire,' Mrs Kirchner said.

Demanding that David Cameron 'give an opportunity for peace and dialogue', she pledged to lodge a complaint at the UN about the presence of HMS Dauntless and Prince William.

'The question of the Malvinas has stopped being just an Argentinean cause. It has become a Latin American cause. It is a global cause,' Mrs Kirchner said.

'I have instructed our foreign secretary to submit before the UN security council and the UN assembly this militarisation, which is a serious risk to to international security'.

Mrs Kirchner's speech was the latest escalation in tensions over the region in advance of April's 30th anniversary of Britain's successful war to liberate the Falklands from the Argentine military junta.

Amid renewed claims of sovereignty from Buenos Aires, Downing Street has vowed to defend the islands as long as their 3,000 inhabitants want to be part of Britain, as polls consistently show they do.

Ministers confirmed last week that the 1 billion pounds Type 45 destroyer Dauntless will be deployed to the islands for seven months, in what they insisted was a 'routine' rotation.

Meanwhile Prince William is to spend six weeks on the islands as part of another 'routine deployment' in his role as Flight Lieutenant Wales, an RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.

The Argentine foreign ministry has complained that the heir to the British throne would arrive wearing 'the uniform of a conqueror'.

Mrs Kirchner last night moved to quash speculation that the Argentine military was gearing up for conflict. 'Don't expect us to deal with this outside of politics or diplomacy,' she said. 'It is not going to happen. We have suffered too much'.

She spoke to a packed audience of war veterans, politicians and senior military figures in the Latin American Patriots Hall, a ceremonial room inside the Casa Rosa, the presidential mansion.

Her address was delivered in front a large poster showing an outline of the islands - which Britain have had since 1833 - emblazoned with the blue and white flag of Argentina.

Outside, thousands of young people and those old enough to remember the 1982 conflict gathered in a sign of support for the president. Some shouted: 'Malvinas! They belong to us!'

After the speech, Mrs Kirchner emerged on to a balcony and was greeted with roaring approval from the flag-waving crowd, at one point pumping her fist and joining them in nationalistic song.

Mrs Kirchner confirmed that a long-secret government report on the activities of the Argentine military in the 1982 war would be made public in 30 days.

This item was from the 8 February 2012 edition of the Daily Telegraph.

From the Daily Mail. 6th February 2012.

Venezuela threatens Britain over Falklands as its president vows to side with Argentina.

Inflammatory promise comes in run-up to 30th anniversary of 1982 conflict.

Foreign Secretary insists deployment of warship and Prince William is 'entirely routine'

Venezuela's left-wing president has raised the stakes over the Falkland Islands by pledging his armed forces would fight alongside Argentina in any conflict with Britain.

The inflammatory promise from Hugo Chavez came in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the April 1982 invasion of the islands by Argentina.

At the same time, Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted the deployment of a British warship and Prince William to the Falklands was 'entirely routine'.

Mr Chavez was speaking at a meeting of the left-leaning ALBA bloc, an alliance of eight South American and Caribbean countries, which backed Argentina in its long-running dispute with Britain over the islands.

Argentina calls the islands Las Malvinas and claims they were 'stolen' by Britain 180 years ago.

As Argentina's anger mounts, the Falklands party goes on with 30th anniversary celebrations of the war and a tour of duty by Prince William

'The issue of the Malvinas Islands is an issue that concerns us, especially with the strong language that has emerged from the British Government, accusing Argentina of being colonialist,' Mr Chavez said at the meeting in Caracas.

'I’m speaking only for Venezuela, but if it occurs to the British empire to attack Argentina, Argentina won’t be alone this time.'

The ALBA countries approved an agreement barring any boats flying Falkland Islands flags from docking in their ports.

The member countries are Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Nicaragua, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Argentina hopes diplomatic and economic measures will pressure Britain to comply with United Nations resolutions encouraging both countries to negotiate the islands' sovereignty.

British leaders have refused to do that, insisting the islanders have the right to self-determination.

Emotions have heightened recently with the deployment of Prince William, a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, to the islands on a military tour along with a warship ahead of the 30th anniversary of the ten-week Falklands War in which 255 members of the British forces died, along with three Falkland Islanders and 649 Argentines.

But Mr Hague said the deployments were routine as he revealed that commemorations would go ahead to mark the anniversary of the conflict.

'The events are not so much celebrations as commemorations,' he said.

'I think Argentina will also be holding commemorations of those who died in the conflict.

'Since both countries will be doing that, I don't think there is anything provocative about that. Nor is there anything provocative about entirely routine military movements.
'They are entirely routine - our ships regularly visit the South Atlantic. We will resist the diplomatic efforts of Argentina to raise the temperature on this.'

6 February 2012.

Caribbean countries back Argentina over Falklands with blockade. Commonwealth countries of Antigua-Barbuda and St Vincent-Grenadines among those supporting blocking British ships.

Argentina received strong support for its blockade at a meeting in Venezuela of a left-leaning bloc of South American and Caribbean nations.

The Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, said: 'It is time for Latin America to decide sanctions against this mistaken power that pretends to be imperialist and colonialist in the 21st century.

'I think we have to apply more forceful things. We have to talk about sanctions.'

Argentina hopes that diplomatic and economic measures will pressure Britain to comply with UN resolutions encouraging both countries to negotiate the islands' sovereignty. Britain has refused so far.

Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, said: 'If it should occur to the British empire to attack Argentina militarily, Argentina won't be alone this time.

'Venezuela is no power, but we've got some weapons and the will to face any imperialist aggression.'


DAILY MAIL 4 FEBRUARY 2012 By David Jones.

Proudly flying the British Red Ensign, the giant cruise liner 'Star Princess' had sailed into the Argentinian port of Ushuaia before heading north to the Falkland Islands.

But as passengers returned to the ship with gaudy, over-priced souvenirs from the world's southernmost city this week they were confronted with an alarming scene.

At the harbour gates, a band of tough-looking stevedores and Falklands War veterans had gathered to unfurl a huge banner showing the Union Jack with a red stripe through it. 'The docking of English pirate ships is forbidden!' read the accompanying message, written, of course, in Spanish.

The unexpected arrival of two Daily Mail journalists in this remote outpost, 8,000 miles from London, only stirred the protesters' passions (among them a survivor of the General Belgrano who demanded Baroness Thatcher should face a war crimes tribunal for ordering the battleship to be sunk).

We were regaled with speeches excoriating the 'colonialist' David Cameron and urging Britain to relinquish its 'occupation' of the Falklands — or rather, 'Las Malvinas', since even to utter the 'F' word is considered treasonous in Ushuaia.

Until liberation came, we were told, there would be no relaxation of the blockade, which now extends along the entire Argentinian coastline and covers all ships trading in the islands, as well as Falklands-licensed trawlers.

So why, as one apprehensive female passenger pondered on viewing the menacing banner, can liners like the Star Princess still dock in Ushuaia?

Since virtually every business in the city depends on tourism, the answer is clear: the Argentinians may be desperate to regain the Malvinas but they aren't going to break their bank to do it.

Instead, trade union leader Roman Mario told me defiantly, they are out to break ours. 'We are fighting for the islands again but this time we are waging a much cleverer war than 30 years ago,' he said. 'We are going to attack you where it hurts you most: in your pockets.'

Given that the blockade, which is also being enforced by Argentina's trading bloc partners Uruguay and Brazil, and even the historically pro-British Chileans, will force ships to divert hundreds of miles for fuel and supplies, there's no denying it will be costly.

It chiefly targets the 26 ships flying the Falklands flag, mainly fishing vessels. Also affected are ships ferrying equipment to the Islands' exploratory oil fields, which now have to detour to central American ports.

But despite the jingoistic rhetoric of its populist President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner — who is doubtless preparing a new salvo to discomfort the 'conquistador' Prince William as he begins a six-week tour of duty in the Falklands — the truth is that Argentina is powerless to do much else.
For all the recent speculation, there is certainly no chance of a second military campaign, despite the feverish protests in the streets of Buenos Aires this week, which saw squads of masked men marching through the streets wielding thick wooden staves and waving national flags.

Just supposing the Argentinian people had the stomach for war — and having travelled the length of the country this week, I am sure they do not — the sides are so mismatched that even the capricious Kirchner wouldn't be foolish enough to launch a repeat invasion.

One doesn't need to be a military expert to realise that a sea-battle between the rust-bucket gunboats I saw moored in Ushuaia and the awesomely-armed British destroyer Dauntless, which will patrol the South Atlantic from next month, would be like setting a great white shark among a shoal of sprats.

And Kirchner's mistrust of the military is so deep-seated — understandably, given Argentina's history of coups — she isn't about to re-arm in a hurry now.

Any prospect of a second Falklands War apart, however, my trek from the islands to the tip of Argentina was eye-opening. It offered a glimpse of the sort of place we might expect the islands to become if the sky blue-and-white flag ever flutters over Port Stanley.

Indeed, when the Argentinians recover the Malvinas — and the 60,000 people here will tell you it's only a matter of time — the government plans to incorporate them into the province of Tierra del Fuego.

Come that glorious day, as visitors are endlessly reminded via bumper stickers, street signs, and a huge seafront monument depicting the islands and the names of the 649 Argentinians who died in the war, Ushuaia will become its administrative capital.

Located at the Antarctic gateway, this city at the end of the earth is in almost mystically beautiful surroundings, with glaciated mountains encircling the icy waters of the Beagle Channel. Yet if this really is the Falkland islanders' future, no wonder they are so desperate to remain British.

As I reported last week in the Mail, in Stanley, the 2,000 people keep their streets immaculately clean. The houses are beautifully preserved; the shops are as well-stocked as possible given the islands' isolation; and there is virtually no crime.

The issue is especially sensitive as the 30th anniversary approaches of the liberation of the islands by Britain from an Argentine invasion

Contrast this with Ushuaia, a former prison colony that has grown rapidly in recent years as Argentina strives to develop its outlying regions.

The first thing that strikes you is the utter disregard for the pristine environment. The stunning sea view is marred by a garish casino, supposedly built to resemble a whale's tail, and other ugly, graffiti-daubed buildings. The foothills behind the city are scarred by an insanitary shanty town.
Surreally, I saw the alternative capital of the Falklands in all its squalor during a sight-seeing tour — on an old London Transport double-decker bus. It was shipped from Britain to Ushuaia several years ago by Argentinians Luis and Monica Vuotto, Beatles-loving Anglophiles who hoped to make money whilst rebuilding bridges after the war.

When the bus first appeared on the streets, however, the local war veterans' association was so incensed that someone took a pot-shot at it (the bullet hole is still in the metal coachwork) and they were warned to return to Buenos Aires or face the consequences.

Bravely they stayed, though, tactfully painting the bus in the sky blue of Argentina and winning favour by taking schoolchildren on free history tours.

Luis says: 'In a way our double-decker is like an ambassador because it has helped to change people's attitudes towards the British and ease tension between our countries.'
A noble sentiment — but sadly it wasn't reflected in the mood among the group of veterans I met in a building festooned with war photographs, campaign maps and other mementoes. They received me cordially enough, yet they were smarting at the imminent arrival of Prince William, insisting his deployment was unnecessary.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, will have returned home by April 2, the anniversary of the start of the war, when they remember their fallen comrades with an elaborate all-night wake, they claimed it had been deliberately timed to provoke ill-feeling. But as air defence Regiment artilleryman Carlos Alberto Bonetti, now 50, told me sagely, if anything their determination to banish the British is even stronger today than 30 years ago.

'When we stepped on to our soil in the Malvinas in 1982 we were very young men,' he said. 'We weren't aware then we were doing a great deed that would become part of our history. Only today do we realise that.'

I was then given a lesson in history, as written by the Argentinians and taught to every schoolchild here.

It went something like this: the islands were first seen by Spanish explorers in the 1400s and for more than 300 years afterwards changed hands between Spain, Britain and France, who named them Les Malouines (after St Malo). The Argentinians, who began settling in the early 1800s after winning their independence, and appointed the first governor in 1829, changed this to 'Malvinas'.

For four years they lived there peacefully but then the nasty, imperialist British came back and ordered them off, and barring those glorious 74 days in 1982, remained in occupation for 180 years.

In their eyes, anyone born in the islands during those 180 years was Argentinian regardless of whether they spoke the Queen's English and had Welsh or Scottish forbears, and this still applies. They insist that while the islanders' British culture would be respected when the Malvinas were repossessed, they would, in time, 'naturally' adopt the Latin American way of life.

And, of course, they would learn to love it. 'We know of 124 people who have already migrated from the Malvinas for better opportunities on the mainland,' averred Bonetti, adding — bafflingly — that many more would come, were they not being 'held hostage' by the British garrison.

From my own recent experiences in the Falklands, I told him, I knew this to be wrong. Not one person I spoke to there had expressed a wish to leave, much less become an Argentine subject.

From the impassive expressions that formed as my words were translated, it was clear we were not there for a debate. One of the main reasons Baroness Thatcher had sent the task force, Bonetti went on — reverting to the revisionist history class — was that her husband had once run the Falkland Islands Company. In truth, as Sir Denis famously confessed, he had 'no idea where the Falklands were' until the invasion.

Contrary to popular myth, another of the veterans' risible claims held, the British hadn't really proved themselves a superior fighting force; they simply had more firepower.

In fact, when Argentina raised the white flag over Stanley, the enemy was so depleted, cold and exhausted they were on the point of surrender themselves — and if only their commanders had held firm for 48 hours the war might have been won.

Quite apart from the glaring factual errors in these arguments, they ignored one salient fact, which was later pointed out by Professor Fernando Iglesias, a former Argentinian opposition congressman and author of a forthcoming book called 'The Malvinas Question'.

At the very time Argentina supposedly laid its 'rightful' claim to the Falklands in the early 1800s, he said, the European settlers who founded his country were systematically purging Indian tribes who had lived there for thousands of years.This genocide was nowhere more brutal than in Tierra del Fuego. 'So the Malvinas, or Falklands, are not of our ancestry,' Iglesias told me. 'If they belong to anyone apart from the "kelpers" (as Falklands folk are known in Argentina) then surely it should be the Indians?'

An international relations professor, Iglesias is among a small but influential group of Argentinian intellectuals preparing a petition in support of the Falklands people's right to decide their sovereignty.

They are prepared to speak out against the president, convinced she has resurrected the issue to divert attention away from the nation's deepening economic crisis.

Kirchner's detractors put Argentina's current woes down to her profligate spending combined with a catastrophic drought that has devastated the vast genetically modified soya bean crop which underpins the new Argentinian economy.

It has sent inflation soaring — to a reported 26 per cent — and even raised fears of a return to the violence and chaos of 2001, when the country went bankrupt and a state of emergency was declared.

That may be some way off, but when I arrived in the capital Buenos Aires this week, worrying signs were all too evident.

The streets teem with uncollected rubbish; public transport is shambolic but fares recently doubled; the cost of utilities is set to rise four-fold because Kirchner has been forced to withdraw over- generous state subsidies; and meanwhile immigrants flood in, swelling the sprawling ghettoes.

Faced with these problems, what else to do but hit out at the old enemy — particularly as the 30th anniversary of the war approaches, and a 'celebrity prince' as one leading Argentinian newspaper disparaged William this week, has joined the occupying forces?

For Flight Lieutenant Wales, therefore, the Falklands tour undoubtedly poses the toughest challenge of his military career, though not because of the unpredictable weather and inhospitable terrain.

The top brass must be praying his helicopter doesn't receive an SOS call from a ship floundering in disputed waters between the islands and the coast of Argentina.

But given the condition of those gun-boats moored in the 'capital of the Malvinas', I wouldn't bet against it.


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