Argentinians in combat gear stir up trouble in Falklands
Argentine nationalists have been accused of travelling to the Falklands dressed in combat gear and intimidating residents.
Politicians in the British overseas territory are considering introducing a blacklisting system to halt the “intimidation” as the problem has escalated.
Groups of up to a dozen men, sometimes clad in camouflage, arrive in the territory once a month on the sole inward flight that stops off in Argentina en route to the islands fromChile. They stay for a week until the outward flight via Argentina leaves again.
They have been accused of causing distress to islanders by seeking to provoke arguments and by filming incendiary videos, later posted on social media, in which they declare that the territory belongs to Argentina.
Residents and visiting British veterans of the Falklands conflict have been dismayed to see men holding banners asserting Argentina’s right to the territory and unfurling the Argentine flag.
Concerns have arisen about “souvenirs” being looted from battlefield sites. In March Daniel Uhjelly, an Argentine lawyer, was caught and fined for trying to “smuggle out” live ammunition found on Mount Longdon, where 23 British and 31 Argentine personnel died.
Leona Roberts, 47, a member of the Falklands legislative assembly, told The Timesthat nationalist groups were attempting to “really stir things up”. She added: “It’s come to a head over the past few weeks. To say that someone waving a flag can cause such upset seems a little crazy but it’s still quite raw in the islands because the official claim [by Argentina to own the islands], the official threat, hasn’t gone away.”
She accused the agitators of “taking advantage of the Argentine cemetery, which should be a place of respect and dignity, to make these political statements. That is upsetting. It’s not welcomed by the families of the men in those graves either.”
Matthew Ware, 48, the Falklands’ public relations manager, said that post-traumatic stress disorder remained prevalent among residents who had lived through the three-month conflict in 1982 and was exacerbated by threatening Argentinians. He also described how he was confronted by a group of nationalists in a pub in Stanley, the capital of the Falklands. “One of them appeared filming and one guy said, ‘So why have you invaded, why are you occupying our Argentinian land?’ and putting the thing [camera] in your face.”
They appear to hail from autonomous groups separate from mainstream Argentine political parties.
Ms Roberts stressed that there had been no issue with Argentine families visiting the graves of relatives. She added that many Argentinians visiting the islands were respectful of residents.