Falklands anger: Argentina issues ‘sovereignty’ threat to UK as row over flights erupts

Falklands anger: Argentina issues ‘sovereignty’ threat to UK as row over flights erupts

AN ARGENTINE Governor has criticised his Government for “surrendering” the Falkland Islands after a Brazilian Airline confirmed it will introduce new flights to link the British island to South America.

The Governor-elect of the province of Tierra del Fuego lashed out at his own Government for not opposing to the newly-announced Sao Paulo-Stanley route. Latam Airlines Brazil has reached an agreement to introduce a second international flight to the Falkland Islands. The airline is to set up a new weekly service from the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo to the Falklands’ capital, Stanley, which is to be added to the already existing weekly flight between Stanley and Santiago de Chile.

But the extra flights to and from the Falkland Islands, known as Las Malvinas in Argentina, have angered Gustavo Melella, the mayor of Rio Grande and Governor of Tierra del Fuego, who branded the Government of the Falklands “illegal”.

He said: “Attention to the information provided by the illegal Government of the Malvinas in relation to the launch of a new weekly flight that will link the route between the Malvinas and Brazil, which will be operated by the company Latam.

“It is sad to see how the British position on the Malvinas is consolidated, which is achieved thanks to the complicity of a sector of our own countrymen, since we are undoubtedly witnessing how this plan of surrendering our sovereignty is implemented.

“This new setback, celebrated more than ever by the islanders, makes clear who benefits exclusively from the policies implemented by the current National Government.

“We are going to continue working so that the Malvinas Question returns to be a national debate issue, and when we choose our highest representatives, we will have a clear view of the sovereign claim, to be able to finish with this brazen delivery of sovereignty.”

Barry Elsby, Governor of the Falkland Islands, did indeed celebrated the news.

He said: “This new flight, along with our plans for a new port and air terminal, will support long-term economic growth on the islands and will lead to significant growth for our tourism industry”.

The new route will allow passengers to make connections to multiple destinations in South America, North America and Europe.

The airline informed that the inaugural flight will be on November 6 this year - details regarding the fares and itineraries are still to be made public.

The Argentine Government has worked in collaboration with its Ministry of Defence to ensure that interim agreements will be established to accommodate this new flight at Mount Pleasant International Airport, in the Falklands, in November, and are currently advancing plans to the development of a new terminal.

Despite Mr Melella’s complaint, Argentina hasn’t given up on the Falklands.

In late June, a delegation led by the country’s Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie headed to New York to meet with the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation and propose to reopen talks with the UK over the islands.

Argentina has long complained residents of the Falklands, who deem themselves British, “take advantage of our education and national health system, under the same conditions as the rest of Argentine citizens”.

The dispute between the UK and Argentina started in the 1830s, and eventually led the countries to a 74-day long conflict in 1982.

People living in the archipelago have previously expressed their desire to remain part of the United Kingdom.

In 2013, residents overwhelmingly voted in a two-day referendum to remain a UK overseas territory.

Out of the 1,517 votes cast, on a turnout of more than 90 percent, as many as 1,513 voted to retain the Falkland Islands’ status of British-held territory.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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