Argentina Imposes Controls on Maritime Traffic with the Falklands

By Dialogo
February 17, 2010

Are we going to have a war here in South America?

Argentina took another step today in its strategy to prevent the start of
British petroleum exploration in the Falklands and announced the imposition of
controls on maritime traffic with the islands, sovereignty over which is claimed by
both countries.

“Any ship planning to travel between ports located in continental Argentina
and the Falklands or to cross Argentine territorial waters to reach the Falklands,
or to carry merchandise between such ports, will have to apply for prior
authorization from the Argentine government,” according to the decree signed today
by Argentine president Cristina Fernández.

The measure, Cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández explained, is accompanied by the
creation of a commission with representatives from various ministries to coordinate
the actions to be taken to implement the decree.

Argentina’s respect for international law with regard to the Falklands, the
minister added at a press conference, “requires us, in defense of Argentine
interests, to make decisions of this kind that may allow us to move toward a
situation that guarantees not only the defense of our sovereignty, but also the
defense of the totality of resources that may exist” in the islands.

The new conflict between Buenos Aires and London broke out when British
intentions to begin petroleum exploration in the Falklands became public, provoking
an angry response from Fernández’s administration.

Argentina renewed its warnings to petroleum firms operating in the
archipelago and issued a reminder that they will be “liable to lawsuits in the
highest courts of the land for the potential exploration and exploitation of
Argentine resources.”

On 11 February, Argentina moved from words to deeds and prohibited the ship
Thor Leader, which transported supplies to the archipelago for the exploration
activities of the firm Desire Petroleum, from operating in any port in the country.
In addition, the Argentine government announced that it would file a protest with
the United Nations in June.

The conflict over sovereignty over the Falkland Islands led to a war between
Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982, resulting in the deaths of nearly a
thousand soldiers.

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