Leaving a legacy of animosity between Britain and Argentina, the Falklands War has marred life on the rocky Southern outcrop since. With the deaths of 907 military personnel and civillians on both sides, the 74 day conflict was one of the shortest, yet bloodiest battles in the last couple of decades. Now, amidst the Mercosur ban on all vessels flying the Falkland Islands flag, relations between the UK and South America seem fraught with tension. The decision to impose an embargo upon the tiny island comes without warning and to the clear dismay of the Foreign office, who see the move as a blatant attack on the sovereignty of British overseas territory.

Showing solidarity with Argentina, Mercosur have made a defiant stand with their fellow South American nation, one with which trade and diplomatic relations are extremely strong. But what exactly has provoked such unexpected antagonism from a multitude of formerly amiable countries? In an age of diminishing resources and heightened demand, the Falkland Island’s fortuitous proximity to a range of fishing grounds and hydrocarbon deposits make it a potentially lucrative territory to hold. Therefore, it is most definitely in the interests of Mercosur to assert its authority over Britain at a time of major defence cuts and economic turmoil. In addition, David Cameron’s already poor reputation abroad is clearly worsening, thereby demonstrating a rutheless opportunism to the Latin American trade conglomerate.

…the prospect of tensions escalating seems more and more likely.

Condemned by the Duke of Cambridge, who is also preparing for a tour there, the prospect of tensions escalating seems more and more likely. The future of the contended archipelago, however, has never been up for discussion, with the Foreign Office clearly reiterating the stance that the Falklands are British and will always remain so as long as the population of the Islands’ population wish it. Such a dismissal of Argentine grievances has been lambasted as “arrogant” and “provocative” by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who adamantly believes in Argentina’s right to Las Malvinas.

Yet residents of the Islands, which lie four hundred nautical miles from the Argentine coast, have defiantly self-identified themselves as British, rejecting any opportunity to change their allegiance. But with military spending at an all time low and the United States seeming to favour a resolution over the negotiating table, as opposed to military might, Britain’s unrelenting claims to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands are increasingly tenuous. Even former admiral, Sir Sandy Woodward, a man who was part of the 1982 defence force, has worryingly admitted that Britain’s ability to successfully defend its territory has most certainly been compromised in recent months. Irrespective of British rule for the last one hundred and eighty years, it seems as if the question of sovereignty is once again rearing its ugly head. As oil prices rise, therefore, and the demand for resources increase, the Foreign Office can be sure of one thing: conflict over the Falkland Islands is not over.

Image courtest of Scottish Association of Geography Teachers

 

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Modern Languages student at UCL with an interest in Current Affairs and Sport.

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