Peru Backs Down

20 Mar

Peru appears to have been forced to back down and deny a port to the British Frigate, HMS Montrose, which had been due to stop off in Lima on Thursday.

Arrangements had originally been made in February for the vessel to stop at Peru on its return trip from patrolling in the South Atlantic, however when the news leaked out in Argentina yesterday there was an immediate press campaign demanding that Peru fall back in line with its neighbours. In the face of the diplomatic pressure, the Government in Lima caved in and withdrew permission for the ship to dock.

Peruvian Foreign Minister, Rafael Roncagliolo, made only a brief statement to news agencies; “This decision has been made to honour our commitment with the Unasur and a Latin American support for Argentina’s legitimate rights regarding the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich islands, and their surrounding maritime territories.”

There is no indication of whether this was a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing, or Peru dropping a hint to Argentina that its support was not to be taken for granted. In the world of South American politics either could apply.

Both nations are members of Unasur which only last week reaffirmed its concerns at the presence of British warships in the South Atlantic and again offered support for Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands. All countries in South America are committed to the idea that they inherited their territory from Spain when they revolted and declared independence in the early 1800’s. Not to support Argentina’s claim would throw up questions about their own borders, hence the support given to Argentina.

The Falkland Islands have been British since 1765 and the Government of the United Kingdom have made it plain that they will protect the Islanders’ right to determine their own future as laid down by the United Nations. Britain also has other territories in the South Atlantic that the patrol vessels visit and defend. HMS Montrose has now been replaced by the newer Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Dauntless

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