Having proclaimed the ban in accordance with the Mercosur agreement, Uruguay’s President Mujica has immediately hit a problem. Whilst he will not recognise a Falklands flag, his Coast Guard don’t appear to be inclined to recognise the President’s position either.
The legal section of the Coast Guard authority has made it clear that they can only operate within the powers granted to them by law, and for all the political rhetoric of the past week, there are no laws in place preventing the docking of any ship flying a flag issued under the Falklands registry. As a result the Uruguay Government now has to put together the legislation and get it passed by their legislature. With growing resistance in Uruguay to the submissive position taken by Mujica in his relations with Argentina, this may not be so easy.
In the meantime, the diplomatic spat will continue. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has made his Government’s position quite clear and he has expressed full support for the Islanders’ right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Uruguay still maintains its support for Argentina, one of its main trading partners, and the exchange between the British and Uruguayan Foreign Secretaries, whilst ‘cordial’, shows no sign of reaching an accord.
The next question will be, whether Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, can persuade Chile to stop the Islanders air link.