Falklands Islands warning: Argentina election sets alarm bells ringing over ‘sovereignty’
Peronist Alberto Fernández today warned he wants to “renew the claim of sovereignty” of the Falkland Islands as one of his first points of business should Argentina elects him as their new leader in the coming weeks. In April 1982, Argentine troops invaded the islands, but capitulated 74 days later to the British forces, with the death toll as a result of the war a devastating 649 - of which 255 soldiers were from the UK. Mr Fernandez’s words have sparked panic in Britons living on the islands, with many also condemning the wake of what could be another hostile Argentine government should he win enough backing.
Shirley Hirtle, 76, who works in the historic museum of Puerto Stanley, said: “They do everything possible to disrupt our economy by imposing all kinds of sanctions on various items and being generally unfriendly.”
Keith Heathman, 76, driver and tour guide for Battlefield Tours, also condemned Argentine plans to affect the connection between the Falklands and the mainland from one a week to two.
He said: “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a problem with the second flight.”
The flight from Santiago, through Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile, would be operated by Latam, which is also organising the flight from Sao Paulo.
The Falkland Islands have been under the control of the UK since 1833, but since the 1960s Argentina has not ceased to claim it by diplomatic, economic and even military means.
After the conflict between the UK and Argentina over the territory, a referendum was held in 2013 that saw 99.8 percent of Falklands residents vote to remain under British rule.
Just three of the 1,571 voters said they wanted to be under Argentine rule.
Mr Fernandez is not the only election candidate to have vowed to take control of the Falklands from the UK.
A handful of presidential hopefuls have vowed to fight for the return of the Falklands if they depose current leader Mauricio Macri in national elections later this month.
Mr Fernandez took aim at President Macri for not fighting the battle over the Falklands.
He accused the current President of “forgetting to claim the islands’ sovereignty”.
And he insisted one of is first acts in office would be to make a “full review” of diplomatic agreements relating to the Falklands.
He said last week: “All these years the Macri government was very much occupied in trade with the UK and with Malvinas and forgot about sovereignty.
“To the memory of our soldiers I’m going to make sure that things are different.
“I demand that again we reinforce our commitment with the Malvinas Islands sovereignty.”
Two advisers to Mr Fernández confirmed his intention to review all the bilateral agreements that were signed with London in in 1989.
One of the aides said: “It’s time to review everything. Thirty years have passed since the Madrid agreement and we have not made any progress.”
Another presidential candidate, outsider Gomez Centurion, also brought up the Falklands at an election event.
He said: “Malvinas is a national cause, but our defence model has been disarticulated.
“We are going to design a defence system in accordance with our country.
“We shall sustain the constitutional mandate to fight to integrate the Malvinas Islands to our territory because it is a national cause.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.