Tightening the Noose ?

27 Dec

Rumours are circulating in South America of an Argentine attempt to bring pressure to bear on the Chilean National airline, LAN Chile, over its regular fight to the Falkland Islands.

In a seemingly political move, Argentina has banned LAN from using its Buenos Aires air hub, Aeroparque, citing overcrowding, but the timing appears important as Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, has brought forward a planned visit to Chile to the end of January.

At the opening of the United Nations in October, Fernandez made a speech to the General Assembly in which she threatened to end the flight that connects the British Overseas Territory to the mainland of South America as part of Argentina’s blockade aimed at forcing the British Government to the negotiating table.

The recent Mercosur decision to deny entry to its ports of any ship flying the Falklands flag can be seen as part of the same plan, although press focus has remained on Uruguay’s imposition of the agreement, rather than that of its bigger neighbour, Brazil. Much of the infrastructure for the current round of oil exploration in the Islands has arrived via Brazil, despite that country expressing similar support for Argentina’s position.

If the LAN Chile flight to Stanley was cancelled in some kind of deal with Argentina over the Aeroparque hub, the Islanders would have little contact with the continent that sits some 300 miles away, relying instead on the air link to the UK via Ascension Island.

The most immediate effect however, would be to prevent the relatives of those that died, following Argentina’s ill-fated invasion of the archipelago in 1982, getting to the Islands for the 30th anniversary next year.

The tactic is unlikely to work either, with the British Prime Minister expressing his country’s full support for the Islanders rights to determine their own future. The Islanders have also proved themselves adept at coping with the minor inconveniences imposed regularly by Argentina.

 

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