Flags, Fishermen and Stunts

19 Jan

Reminiscent of previous stunts by Argentina, a reason given for this week’s meeting of Britain’s National Security Council was intelligence suggesting that Argentine fishing vessels would be used to plant flags on Falkland Islands territory, and on South Georgia.

The intelligence appears to have been raised by security chiefs as one of the methods likely to be employed by President Cristina Fernandez in an attempt to over-shadow the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. Memorial services and celebrations for the victory are due to commence on the 2nd of April, the date of Argentina’s invasion in 1982.

Stunts involving raising an Argentine flag of British property is not new. The 1940’s and 50’s saw many such attempts by the Argentine navy to plant personnel and flags in British Antarctic Territories. On September 8th, 1964, an Argentine civilian, Miguel Fitzgerald, landed a Cessna light aircraft at Port Stanley, planted an Argentine flag in the ground, handed a proclamation to a confused bystander, and took off again. He attempted to repeat the stunt in November of 1966, but found obstacles on Stanley race-course, and Fitzgerald crash landed, without injury.

On September 28th, 1966, an armed group of 19 Argentines from the extremist Condor group, hijacked an Aerolíneas DC4 with 26 passengers on-board, including Admiral Jose Guzmán, and forced it to go to the Falklands. When the aircraft landed on the race-course at Stanley some Islanders going to assist were seized as hostages. These were released later in the day, following an exchange with Marines’ Captain, Ian Martin, and the local Police Sergeant, Terry Peck, taking their place. The hijackers surrendered the next day.

The most serious stunt was that of Constantino Davidoff who, on the pretext of dismantling the old whaling station on South Georgia, turned up on an Argentine naval vessel and planted their flag in full view of the British authorities there. The threat that the trespassers would be removed by a small squad of British marines was used by the military junta in Argentina as an excuse for the invasion that had been planned for some time.

David Cameron is taking such stunts by Argentina’s leaders seriously, as this weeks defence review indicates.




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