South Atlantic Sabre Rattling

17 Jul

The recent news that Premier Oil is to buy a stake in Rockhopper Exploration, the discoverer of oil reserves in the waters of the Falkland Islands, has prompted Argentina to rattle its sabres once again.

In a response to the news, the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires has announced that it is to take legal action against Premier Oil, although quite what legal action it would be able to take was not made clear. Argentina has already claimed to be taking legal action against all the companies involved in oil exploration around the Falklands, as well as their investors. Todate there is no evidence of any real action taking place. The British Foreign Office have confirmed that Argentina has no basis for action in International Law.

Premier Oil is the second major oil company to announce its willingness to become involved in exploration in the south Atlantic, although the technical challenges have already brought many disappointments. Argentina appears impotent in its attempts to stop the fledgling oil industry on the Islands.

The Falkland Islands have been British since 1765 and were recognised as such by the only other claimant, Spain, in 1863. Argentina bases much of its claim to the archipelago on their comparative nearness to the South American country, whereas Britain lies some 8000km away.

Falkland Islanders are due to hold a referendum next year to decide their future as a British Overseas Territory.


21 Responses to “South Atlantic Sabre Rattling”

  1. Bloke July 17, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Quite. Argentina doesn’t have a leg to stand on, legally.

    The impotent rage issuing forth from them is very funny to watch though.

    Keep it coming 🙂

  2. CLopez July 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Argentina bases its claim on the principle of uti possidetis. The islands were Spanish by 1811, so they were formally taken possession of by Argentina in 1820.

    From 1774 to 1829 (55 years) the British made no claim or assertion of sovereignty, effectively losing any possible right over them.

    BTW, you missed a news:

    • m_of_fi July 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      So how come Argentina doesn’t claim the rest of South America (excluding Brazil and the Guianas)?

      • CLopez July 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

        At some point, we were much more united than now. We share a common past and cultural background. But internal and external interests (specially British interests) drove us apart.

        Google the following:
        * United Provinces of South America
        * Jose de San Martin
        * Simon Bolivar
        * Gran Colombia


    • lordton1955 July 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      You are incorrect. The Falklands were never a part of the Viceroyalty, and remained claimed by Spain after May 25th, 1810. They were not evacuated by Spain until 1811. There was no act of sovereignty by Buenos Aires in 1820. The first attempt to claim the islands by an imposition of sovereign authority was 1829. It was protested.

      There was no inheritance, and uti possidetis juris is merely a political agreement cobbled together in 1848.
      It only binds those who signed up to it. Britain never did.

      As to the 55 year gap you refer to – it involved no loss of sovereignty. Nor can you prove that it did, as it has never been tested either by arbitration or in a court of intenational law. You are merely saying what you would like to be true.

      • CLopez July 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

        LOL just like you do, Mr. Lordton. Except that I wouldn’t lie so grossly as you did in this comment.

      • lordton1955 July 17, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

        I tell no lies. Hardly my fault if the, proven, truth does not suit you.

      • Phil Blake July 18, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

        Hear hear ! !

      • CLopez July 19, 2012 at 7:05 am #

        Lies, lies, lies.

        Just Google:
        * Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata
        * 1820 buenos aires falklands
        * pacheco vernet 1823

        You say that the gap of 55 years involved no loss of sovereignty, yet below they are saying that the gap of 35 years in which Argentina remained silent did. That’s a contradiction, don’t you think?

      • lordton1955 July 19, 2012 at 8:23 am #

        Google ?? I have. Often.

        The Viceroyalty did NOT include the Falklands. It’s southern border extended no further than 41 degrees south latitude. And it’s in the Decree of 1829 – ” … the proximity of these islands to the Continent that formed the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires, unto which government they depended.” DEPENDED !! You want to try Googling some Spanish history 🙂

        How could Buenos Aires lose a claim that they’d never had ?? And who said that ‘prescription’ was about Argentina ?? Spain did not object and they were the only other claimant !

      • CLopez July 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

        It’s really just a matter of semantics and levels of administration.

        Buenos Aires claim dates back to the first week after Argentina’s revolution, May 30th, 1810:

        This document, as you can see, is in the Archivo General de la Nacion, in Buenos Aires (A.G.N. Sala X 2-10-9).

        By the time you occupied the islands, Spain was still claiming Buenos Aires, not just the Falklands. And the British had already recognized the United Provinces as an independent country. It would be nonsense to expect a protest from Spain in that context.

      • lordton1955 July 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

        The 1825 Treaty between Britain and Buenos Aires DID NOT recognise you as an independant state. It was an argument that the USA used even then in an attempt to gain ‘most favoured nation’ status for itself. A commercial Treaty only. Ponsonby was sent out to deal with the political matters and he didn’t stay long.

        Spain maintained the Falklands after 1810, and maintained their claim until 1863.

        Nonsense?? Irrelevant. The fact remains that Spain was the ONLY other claimant.

    • A Skiver (@stormforce999) July 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Your “principle of uti possidetis” is peculiar. Under that principle the Islands are definitely not Argentinian since they lost the war 30 years ago.

  3. Don Alberto July 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    We have a time line:

    1765: Britain declares the Falkland Islands British terrritory.
    – – –
    1833: British sovereignity re-installed.
    1833-1849: Protests.
    1850: Treaty ratified.
    1850-1887: No protests, no claim.
    1865: No protests, no claim, we have friendly relations.
    1866: The Argentine vice-president sees only one dispute, that of damages suffered by English subjects in 1845.
    1881: A map, which does not show the Falklands Islands as part of Argentina.
    1881/82: A map showing one colour for Argentina and another for other countries’ possessions, including the Falkland Islands.
    1888: One single protest, in the form of a diplomatic letter.
    1889-1941: No protests, no claim.
    1905: The map of Argentina’s military regions from 1905 does not show the Falklands Islands as part of Argentina.


    1. Commencing 1833 and through December 1849 the ‘Confederación Argentina’ regularly and officially protested British sovereignity in diplomatic letters and in the “Message to Congress”. (Source: “Alfredo Becerra, Protestas por Malvinas, Buenos Aires, 1998”).

    2. In 1849 the “Convention between Great Britain and the Argentine Confederation” was signed and in May 1850 it was ratified in Buenos Aires.
    Following the ratification, Argentina no longer protested and the Falkland Islands were not mentioned in the “Messages to Congress” for 91 years until 1941, except once, 20 January 1888, when Argentine Foreign Minister Norberto Quirno Costa protested to Britain against Britain’s possession of the Falklands.

    3. In President Bartolomé Mitre’s message at the opening of the Argentine Congress on 1 May 1865: “… no ha habido sino motivos para consolidar las relaciones amistosas que existen entre éste y aquellos gobiernos.” (Source: Heraclio Mabragaña, “Los Mensajes 1810-1910″, Buenos Aires 1910, vol. III, pag. 227).” = “there was nothing to prevent the consolidation of friendly relations between this country and those governments [France and Britain].”

    4. Vice-president Marcos Paz’s opening speach to the Argentine Congress, 1 May 1866: “… perjuicios sufridos por súbditos ingleses en 1845. Aun no se ha resuelto esta cuestión que es la única que con aquella nación subsiste.” (Source: Heraclio Mabragaña, “Los Mensajes 1810-1910”, Buenos Aires 1910, vol. III, pag. 238) = “… damages suffered by English subjects in 1845. This question, which is the only one between us and the British nation, which has not yet been settled.” .

    5. President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento’s “Message to the Argentine Congress”, 1 May 1869: “… Nada nos reclaman las otras Naciónes: nada tenemos que pedir de ellas, sino es la continuación de las manifestaciones de simpatía …”
    (Source: Heraclio Mabragaña, “Los Mensajes 1810-1910”, Buenos Aires 1910, vol. III, pag. 286) = “Nothing is claimed from us by other nations; we have nothing to ask of them except that they will persevere/(assuming their spirit of justice) in manifesting their sympathies …”

    6. 1881: The ‘Latzina’ Map, “Mapa Geográfico de la República Argentina …”, Buenos Aires 1882 (dated 1881), based on the treaty of 23 July 1881, financed by the Argentine Foreign Ministry and published in 120,000 copies, distributed to Argentine consulates all over the world shows Argentina in one colour and non-Argentina in another. ( )

    7. 1881/82: the map ‘Limites Australes de la Republica Argentina’ ( ) dated 1881 does not show the Falklands Islands as part of Argentina.

    8. 1905: The map of Argentina’s military regions from 1905 ( ) does not include the Falkland Islands at all.

    • CLopez July 19, 2012 at 5:58 am #

      Yes, I’ve read “Getting it Right” already. Now would you apply a similar analysis to the period 1774-1829 and the relations between Spain & Britain?

      You’ll have to research for yourself, of course, you won’t find it in British-biased authors.

      • Don Alberto July 20, 2012 at 1:07 am #

        My dear CLopez,

        later events can cancel previous events.

        A few examples:

        10 BC Spain was part of the Roman Empire
        Around 460 AD Spain was not a part of the Roman Empire but Vandal, Visigoth and Byzantine.
        Around 655 AD Spain was not divided but a Visigoth kingdom.
        After app. 715 Spain was an Islamic kingdom.
        After 1492 all of Spain was a catholic kingdom.

        – later events cancelled previous events.

        Most of 1803-15 France and Britain were at war.
        After 1815 France and Britain were not at war.

        – later events cancelled previous events.

        Which is why events in and after 1850 annulled any Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands

        – later events cancelled previous events, it has happened all through history and even today. Where is the Sovjet Union? Yugoslavia? …

      • Don Alberto July 20, 2012 at 1:41 am #

        I have researched much more over the years.

        The formal British recognition of the ‘United Provinces of the River Plate’, 2 Februar 1825 can be found here: – a .pdf file of photocopied handwritten original document

        This document does NOT specify any particular territory, only a very general “the Territories of The United Provinces of Rio de La Plata”

        At the time of the British recognition (1829), the present day Argentine parts of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate did not extend further south than limited to the south through present provincia Buenos Aires (about 1/10 of the present province) toward west a line south of San Luis and including provincia Mendoza [plus present day separate countries to the north], including Bolivia, Uruguay and parts of Brasil.

        One also have to consider how “legal” and “constitutional” the Argentine government was in 1825. The country was in constant turmoil and civil wars between three parties, unitarios, federalistas and Buenos Aires-federalistas. Observe, that Hermes’ main argument against the 1850 peace **treaty** is based precisely on il-“legal” and un-“constitutional”.

        The Battle of Cepeda in 1820 brought the end of the centralized national authority and the country was split among caudillos. In 1826, AFTER the British recognition, a centralist constitution was instituted and Bernardino Rivadavia was appointed president, but the new constitution was rejected by the provinces, and Rivadavia had to resign.

        Spain dropped its claim to the islands in 1843, but didn’t formally recognise Argentina’s existence until 1853, and in 1863 the Spanish acknowledged British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.

        As regards the presidential statements (Bartolomé Mitre in 1865, vice-president Marcos Paz in 1866, president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento in 1869), one has to take into account the following passus in ‘Constitución Argentina de 1853’: “El presidente gozaba de facultades colegislativas: … La firma de tratados con otros estados estaba a su exclusivo cargo”.

        Thus it is part of the constitution from 1853, that ratification of treaties with other countries is a presidential prerogative. Neither ‘Reforma de 1860’ nor ‘Reforma de 1866’ cancelled this prerogative.

        This implies that Mitre and Sarmiento could discard or endorse/authorise any and all previous treaties. Their official Messages to Congress 1865 and 1869, as also reflected in VP Paz statement 1866, strongly indicate that they endorsed the 1850 treaty.

      • lordton1955 July 20, 2012 at 2:10 am #

        Thank you for your link. What is the source please.

        Also some of your dates are confusing me. You refer to ‘recognition’ in 1829? You also say that Spain dropped its claim to the Island/s in 1843 and formally recognised Argentina’s existence in 1853. I agree with 1863, but am unsure to what you refer with the others.

        Can you please explain these dates.

        Any properly sourced information that can add to the timeline would be most welcome.

        Thank you.

      • Don Alberto July 20, 2012 at 3:27 am #

        I am afraid I have been a naughty boy and made three typos: 1829 should have been 1825. 1843 and 1853 should have been 1863 – mea culpa x 3.

        The **informal** British recognition of the ‘United Provinces of the River Plate’, 15 December 1823:

        The formal British recognition of the ‘United Provinces of the River Plate’, 2 Februar 1825:

        The sources in both cases can be seen from the address: = ‘Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto de La Republica Argentina’, ‘Biblioteca Digital de Tratados’.

        I assume you already have them, but just in case, here you’ll find:

        ‘Tratado de Reconocimiento, Paz y Amistad celebrado entre la Confederación Argentina y España’ (21 de septiembre de 1863): search here (will give you a .pdf file) or use,_Paz_y_Amistad_celebrado_entre_la_Confederación_Argentina_y_España


        “Handbook of treaties, &c., relating to commerce and navigation between Great Britain and foreign powers, wholly or partially in force on July 1, 1907. (With supplement.)”

      • lordton1955 July 20, 2012 at 4:05 am #

        No problem. Thank you for the links. I have most English versions, but I shall check out the Foreign Ministry link to make sure that I am not missing anything.

      • Don Alberto July 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

        I prefer to have the Argentine documents too, they are – at least I assume so 😀 – not written by “British-biased authors” (synonym for non-Argentine authors).

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