Friday, March 30, 2007

Oil dominates 25th Falklands War anniversary

Argentina has used the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Falklands War to formally quash a deal with Britain to share oil found near the disputes islands. Argentinean foreign minister Jorge Taiana said the decision was taken because of Britain's unilateral action to put oil deals out for public tender without discussion with Argentina.

The Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands Government, Chris Simpkins, brushed off the Argentinean statement. He said while Taiana's announcement was “unfortunate” it would have no practical effect and it would be “business as usual” in the Falkland Islands. The Falklands Oil and Gas Ltd will continue to explore for oil off the Eastern shores of the islands.

The British Geological Survey says 60 billion barrels of oil lie under the ocean around the Falkland Islands. Britain and Argentina signed a joint declaration called the South-west Atlantic Offshore Cooperation Activities in 1995. Then-President Carlos Menem hoped the deal would allow Argentina join the exploration and exploitation of crude in the area. Both countries were supposed to explore a specific area of international waters and exchange information about their activities. But the accord was doomed from the start as Britain and Argentina adopted different interpretations of the areas they could jointly explore.

Although the agreement has been moribund since 2001, it has taken another six years for the deal to be formally scrapped. Many analysts say the timing of the announcement is more significant than the announcement itself. Left-leaning Argentinean president Nestor Kirchner faces re-election in October. The Falklands decision is a likely vote winner. There is also a personal aspect. Kirchner comes from Patagonia which was the front line of Argentinean military operations during the conflict. He has now called for Britain to discuss sovereignty.

25 years ago, the fate of Las Malvinas was also used to shore up a troubled Argentinean regime. Dictator Leopoldo Galtieri presided over an unhealthy economy with high unemployment, shrinking GDP and 160 percent inflation. He gambled Britain would negotiate if he struck a quick blow and his popularity would then be assured at home. On 2 April 1982, he ordered his navy to occupy the archipelago. In response, Margaret Thatcher dispatched the largest British fleet assembled since the end of World War II.

Galtieri blundered in ordering the invasion before the onset of the Southern winter. With no rough weather to contend with, British forces were able to make a bridgehead on the islands and the 10,000 defending Argentine troops could not deal with both land and air attacks. On 4 May, the nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sunk the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano in 40 minutes. The attack happened 80 kms outside the exclusion zone and was considered a violation of war statutes. 360 crew members died. Britain shelled the islands for 17 days before launching the invasion.

After several decoys, they landed in force on 21 May at Port San Carlos, a bay located between the two major Falkland islands. Despite a major Argentinean air offensive, the British were able to establish a successful bridgehead. After a week of consolidation, the British moved south to Goose Green where they defeated a numerically superior Argentine force with the substantial help of Harriers, helicopters and naval shelling. By 12 June, they were on the edge of the capital Port Stanley. After two more days, the game was up. General Menéndez ignored an order from Buenos Aires to launch a suicidal counter attack and surrendered unconditionally to Major General Moore. The 11-week conflict was over and the islands were back in British hands where they still remain. The war cost 255 British lives and about a thousand Argentineans. It also caused the fall of Galtieri’s government.

The deaths were a very high price to pay for a barren collection of wet and windy rocks populated by 750,000 penguins, 600,000 sheep and just 2,800 people. But Britain does have a long-standing emotional investment in the South Atlantic. They have governed the islands since 1833 and their influence goes back a lot further still. Although the islands may have been originally sighted by Spanish explorers, the first official discovery was in 1592 by English seafarer John Davis, captain of the sailing ship "Desire". The first recorded person to land on the Falklands was also English - Captain John Strong in 1690.

Explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville landed on East Falkland in 1764 and laid claim to the islands for France. Two years later, the Spanish bought the islands from the French. The next 50 years saw British and Spanish naval forces engage in gunboat diplomacy while claiming the islands. Britain invaded Argentina in 1806 and briefly took Buenos Aires. In 1833, a British fleet surprised an Argentine force on the islands and forced them to depart. The British raised their flag and began the settlement that lasts to this day.

The islands played an important role at the beginning of both world wars with the German name Graf Spee popping up in both campaigns. In 1914, British Admiral Sturdee led a squadron of seven vessels against the German Pacific Fleet under the command of Admiral Graf Von Spee. Britain sunk six German boats to win the battle and secure naval supremacy in the southern seas. In 1939, the German pocket battleship Graf Spee was harassed around the islands before being sunk by the English fleet in the Battle of the River Plate.

Despite these events, the islands remained a sleepy outpost well out of the international limelight until the tragic events of 1982. The situation remains tense today. Argentina continues to lay claim to the islands. The 2,800 citizens remain solidly British in outlook. Continued support of the occupation is a serious drain to the British taxpayer. The Falkland garrison cost Britain over a hundred million pounds in financial year 2004-5. Sooner or later, a British government will find this cost untenable and will sit at the negotiating table with Argentina. Oil exploration rights will then replace sheep as the islands' most valuable asset.


Anonymous said...

Malvinas Argentinas, Jibraltar Español, Esequibo Venezolano

tookie said...

Las Malvinas, Argentinas
Pablo Duranti, Argentina

nebuchadnezzar said...

possibly. But not any time soon.

Who or what is Pablo Duranti?

Anonymous said...

Yo no quiero amores en Inglaterra, que en mi tierra (España) los tengo mejores (Cancionero de Upsala)

Keir said...

The Falklands Flag takes pride of place in my class this week. I haven't any pictures yet but you can check out my classroom to see how I display my flags-
As there was no Argentina in 1833, they have the same rights as the French do to the Channel Isles or Canada does to St. Pierre and Miquelon.
Hope we never negotiate with fascist aggression to sell-off our own people.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of jingoistic nonsense! 10000 Argentines? You have to be kidding, they couldn't feed them! We "invaded Argentina"?, that's a new one! 1000 Argentine casualties? Did they count them?, how convenient that number! We sunk the Belgrano in 40 mins? Yes, that is true, and they sunk one of ours each day for a week!
Get real, we were lucky to save face, and we were unlucky in getting stuck with the conservatives for almost twenty years!

Adrian Fosterman said...

Cada vez estamos mas Cerca de recuperar las Islas Malvinas Argentinas.
Van a ver Ingleses Piratas lo que les espera!!!!

Pablo Argentino said...

Ingleses manga de piratas y forros! ya se van a ir de las malvinas y del peñon de gibraltar y de todos los otros lugares de la tierra donde estan enquistados malditos ladrones imperialistas!!!!


volveremos piratitas xD

Anonymous said...

The Malvinas are Argentine territory! Will be back! Viva la patria Carajo y viva los 649 heroes que dejaron su vida en la turba!
Malvinas Argentinas

william999 said...

The Falkland's are,were, and alway's will be British.Even diplomacy will not change that as every politician in the U.K know's if he/she negotiates over them it would bespitting on the graves of the brave Briish soldier's,sailors and airmen who died in that war.A war used as a distraction from a failing economy amongst other thing's by an Argy fascist dictator.

william999 said...

Las Malvinas son, fueron y alway será la diplomacia British.Even no va a cambiar que como todo político en el Reino Unido sabe si él o ella negocia sobre ellos sería bespitting en las tumbas del soldado Briish valiente, marinos y pilotos que murieron en que la guerra war.A utilizados como una distracción de la economía en crisis, entre otras cosas por un dictador fascista argentino.

Anonymous said...

Hi Woolly, as far as I see, the UK has not understood the lessons of the South Atlantic War, that my country hold out with yours.
As argentinian I don't care if we had a military government or not, nor who took the final decision to retake the Malvinas Islands and their dependencies. The deed was done, we took them, and we fought for them, we struggle against the Royal Navy wich was the bassis of the NATO fleet, we had on one hand most of the Iberoamerican countries moral support, and in the other hand there were the Onion Jack, the Stars and Stripes and the mock of the EEC. These was the foe.
We lost the war, yes. But so it happened in easter rising of 1916 in Dublin, and the same will happen here. No way my friend. You won't get away with it. When it'll happen??? I don't know, perhaps tomorrow, in a week or a year. But we will set our feet back in the islands. We won't be alone. No Sir: William Wallace will be with us, and Little Bonnie Prince Charles, and Guy Fawkes, Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, Joe Mac Donnel, The Flying Column, Father Fahy, Admiral William Brown, Bobby Sands. They will share our fate.
We fought you en 1806, 1807, 1842, 1845 and we won. We only have to wait and take our chance, "with the Empire tumbling down let no paddys back the crown, las Islas Malvinas argentinas".
"And you dare to call me terrorist, while you look down your gun, hen I think of all the tings that you have done, youu have ploundered many nations, divided many lands, you have terrorized their peoples, you have ruled with iron hand, and you brought this reign of terror to my land".
See you soon.

William the Conqueror

Mike91 said...

Well, I'm sorry for this, but many info in this blog is wrong. And it's vital info.

We british are being fooled by the media.

First, we -WE- broke the oil treaty. You are garnishing the facts when saying "Argentinean foreign minister Jorge Taiana said the decision was taken because of Britain's unilateral action to put oil deals out for public tender without discussion with Argentina." We broke the treaty when doing that, and that was not a result of argentine imagination.

we have broken lots of treaties about the Malvinas or International Right lots of time. We deserve (and I hope we are forgiven) to be harshly punished by the UN. Argentina has done this only one time: in 1982. But I'm afraid we are not to judge them, becausse they were under the control of a facto government. We had democracy. They didn't.

About historycal facts, I can say this: we don't have four ases in our hand.
There's a mistake in this line: "Although the islands may have been originally sighted by Spanish explorers, the first official discovery was in 1592 by English seafarer..."
It was French (not spanish) explorers who sighted the islands first before us. And it Has Happened (not ''may have happened'', it's a fact). They were sailing on a Spanish ship.

Until then, France would have the right. But on my opinion, sighting an island or placing a flag shouldn't be a permission for conquering or occuping it. The islands could have been someone else's or someone else could have the right over them.
But apparently, there were not any of those characteristics on the islands.
Then we landed on them, and left.
Years later, France established a coloy there. We did the same later. Both settlements didn't know about the other. But when they did, a small "war" ocurred and we were expelled. We surrendered and signed a treaty recognizing French sovereignity over the Malouines (as they were named).

Then France recognized the Spanish right over the islands (they weren't sold, that's embezzlement). When we got to know that, we tried to conquer them again. We failed. Lots of years later, Spain abandoned the islands. A decade after that, we got to the (abandoned) Falkland islands, placed a flag and left.

I'm skeptical about the possibility of conquering an island by placing a flag. What is that?? How can it possibly be done so many times in history?

The points of view may vary, but the facts I mentioned are all and correct.
Until here, we can say that Falkland/Malvinas are Spanish, French, or ours. I believe that they were French, and later Spanish.

But anyway, it matters little. Because in 1920 we recognized the United Provinces sovereignity and also over the islands and Patagonia (I know that patagonia was under indigenous population in their right. But, as this aborigins are now proud argentinians, we can say nothing). We recognized it. We abandoned all "legal" posibility of recovering those islands that weren't ours (they are at 14.000 km please!).

In 1930 the UP established a colony and asked us, France, and other countries for settlers. UP agreed to send us regular reports about the islands.
Three years later, they stopped sending them. We did nothing then. But, when UP attacked a fishing ship that had been fishing illegaly and ignored warnings, we asked for US help. US came with fishers too and warships. UP navy tried to stop the violation of their rights. But we got in to the battle to and threatened falkland islanders to surrender.

Most (not all) falkland islanders were sent back to UP then. But their heirs are still alive and in Argentina, and they are the true falkland islanders. Not kelpers.

We often claim we did this with no bloodshed. But that was because UP agreed to surrender without a fight. We did not do that on 1982 and that's why we think we're better and they worse. And that is stupid.


Mike91 said...


Finally, I know that the argument of self-determination is very powerful. But we've got to be humble and admit that they have lots of valid arguments too and WE are the ones which don't wan't to negotiate. I do. My government does not, that's the difference.
And we've got to admit this: since we recognized UP sovereignity in 1820, the islands are legally theirs, and so we should admit that self-determination is our ONLY argument in this dispute. Not our main argument, but the only one also.

Another pair of mistakes in the blog: lots of politicians and nobles have admitted the islands are theirs or "may be theirs". And WE are threatening them with weapons, no them to us.

Anonymous said...

I'm from argentina
Please disregard those nationalistic knuckle draggers who cant even write in the language used in this blog
Most of us don´t care about the islands
I think the kelpers deserve the uk government more than an unstable latin american government
It would be sad to watch the high standards of life in the islands drop down because some politicians want to increase their popularity