Argentina becomes picky over Falkland Islands as it bars humanitarian flight

Argentina becomes picky over Falkland Islands as it bars humanitarian flight

TENSIONS over the Falklands escalated this week after Argentina stopped an island flight entering its airspace.

The flight carried a Falklands resident to a British hospital in Montevideo, Uruguay but was refused access to Argentine airspace on its return. It had been approved by Argentine authorities, but the return became complicated since the aircraft was scheduled to fly back to Montevideo with more than 20 fishermen

These fishermen worked for international companies operating in Falklands waters with Falklands licences which Argentina rejected.

Three islanders were left stranded in Uruguay as a result.

A spokesperson for the Argentine foreign ministry said the flight was not cancelled or prohibited.

They said the returning fishermen meant “the flight is not humanitarian” and “contributes to illegal fishing activities in Argentine waters”.

Argentine president Alberto Fernandez has held a firm stance on fishing spaces around the Falklands and other South Atlantic Islands since taking office in December.

The Argentine Congress has also unanimously approved three bills in relation to fisheries.

One of them involves the formation of a new council composed of government members, opposition, veterans and academia.

A second bill extends the country’s continental shelf from 200 to 350 miles, following the framework of the UN Law of the Sea.

The third is a fisheries bill which hikes fines for illegal fishing in Argentine waters.

Fines are calculated according to each vessel’s fuel consumption, ranging from 300,000 to a million litres, and the costs of escorting the poaching vessel to a port.

Mauricio Macri, the previous president, continued to claim sovereignty over the islands but adopted a friendlier approach.

In September 2016, Argentina and the UK agreed to the resumption of joint scientific fisheries cruises and a relaxed policy on charter flights.

They also worked together to identify soldiers buried in The Falklands.

International forensics teams named 110 gravestones which for several decades simply read “Argentine soldier, only known to God”.

The UK claimed the Falklands 187 years ago and won a war over the territory in 1982.

It left around 649 invading Argentine soldiers and 255 British dead and the conflict ceased after 74 days.

Argentina claims sovereignty to the islands which are known as Malvinas Islands in Buenos Aires.

However, the UK government has made it clear that any future negotiations will depend on how Falkland Islanders want to progress their status.