February 7th, 2012
07:15 PM ET

Argentina to file protest against Great Britain at U.N.

[Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET] Amid escalating tensions over the Falkland Islands, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused Great Britain of militarizing the South Atlantic and said Tuesday her country would file a protest at the United Nations.

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

"I have instructed our chancellor to formally present before the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly this militarization of the South Atlantic, which implies a great risk for international safety," she said during a speech in Buenos Aires.

"We're going to file a protest," Fernandez added.

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[Initial post, 12:14 p.m. ET] Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has announced plans for what local media are calling a major announcement Tuesday amid escalating tensions between Argentina and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Kirchner is gathering ruling and opposition party politicians, diplomats and veterans from the 1982 war between Britain and Argentina over the South Atlantic islands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, the English-language Buenos Aires Herald reported. Her announcement is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET).

Speculation in recent days has been that Kirchner will cut the Falklands air link to the South American mainland by banning the airline LAN Chile from using Argentinian airspace to fly to the islands from Chile. The Saturday flights are the only scheduled air service to the Falklands and carry fresh food as well as passengers, Britain's Sky News reports.

Argentina already bans Falklands ships from its ports, an action joined by other South American and Caribbean nations.

"If the LAN Chile flight is cancelled, it would be pretty difficult to resist the already credible thesis that there is an economic blockade of the civilian population of the Falklands," a senior British diplomat in the region was quoted as saying by the UK's Guardian newspaper last week.

Though Britain won the 1982 war, expelling an Argentinian military force, Argentina still claims the territory, which has been under British rule since 1833, as its own. Britain maintains that the 2,500 residents of the Falklands have the right to determine their allegiance, and so far that has been staunchly British.

"We support the Falklands' right to self-determination, and what the Argentinians have been saying recently I would argue is actually far more like colonialism, because these people want to remain British, and the Argentinians want them to do something else," British Prime Minister David Cameron told UK lawmakers last month.

Tensions between London and Buenos Aires were raised even higher this month when Britain sent the second in line to the throne, Prince William, to the Falklands as a military helicopter pilot.

"Prince William is coming ... as a member of the armed forces of his country," Argentina's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The Argentinian people regret that the royal heir is coming to the soil of the homeland with the uniform of the conqueror and not with the wisdom of a statesman who works in the service of peace and dialogue between nations."

The prince's deployment comes as Britain is making other moves to support its 1,700 personnel at the Mount Pleasant military complex in the Falklands.

Britain is sending the sophisticated destroyer HMS Dauntless to the Falkland Islands.

The Royal Navy is sending its top-of-the-line warship, the destroyer HMS Dauntless, to the South Atlantic in the spring on what the British Defense Ministry calls a routine deployment, according to British media reports, including the BBC. Additionally, a British nuclear submarine is also headed to the Falklands, according to a report in the UK's Daily Mail.

So why, besides supporting the Falklands' inhabitants, does Britain want to hang on to the islands? There are lucrative fishing grounds around the islands as well as a growing oil drilling industry.

Argentina, of course, has economic interests, but analysts say the current standoff has much to do with internal politics.

"The government is being squeezed from lots of different areas, so one way to distract from the economic problems facing the country is to raise the Malvinas issue," Mark Jones, an expert in Latin American politics at Rice University in Texas, told CNN. "It's one of the few issues outside football that you can get universal consensus on."

And in Argentina, football, or soccer, is helping fuel the tensions.

When the season kicks off Friday in the top flight of Argentinian soccer, the league will be named Crucero General Belgrano (the cruiser General Belgrano) after the Argentinian warship sunk by a British submarine during the conflict 30 years ago. Argentina lost 323 sailors in the sinking, almost half of its total casualties during the war. Britain puts its casualties in the 74-day 1982 war at 255 troops and civilians.

In a report Tuesday on MercoPress.com, the South Atlantic News Agency said that Argentina's top soccer league is run by the government, which also owns its TV rights. All games are broadcast free, and advertising is often used to promote government programs, according to the report.

If the Argentinian government is pushing its Falklands claims on domestic TV, it's using a different media to put out a message in the Falklands themselves, according to Time.com. Islanders report receiving harassing phone calls, e-mails and even tweets, Time reports.

"It's intimidating to be woken in the night to someone shouting at you in Spanish," Lisa Watson, editor of the islands' newspaper The Penguin News, told Time.

Read and watch more CNN coverage of the Falklands:

Questions and answers on the Falklands tensions

The Falklands in photos high-res gallery

Venezuela, Bolivia leaders call for sanctions against Great Britain

No cancer found in Argentinian president

Argentinian president sworn in for second term

soundoff (589 Responses)
  1. Enrico

    I am Italian, so dont get me wrong, I just say what I see. The point is that Argentina feels strong and wants to invade a place inhabited by BRITISH people. Falkland islands have been argentineans for just 8 years from 1825 to 1833. Before then, it was a Spanish dominion and after 1833 it has been British. It is like Austria wanted back northen Italy because was part of the Asburgic Empire, forgetting the point that northen Italy is inhabitated by Italians.

    85% of the population belong to the British culture. During the Argentinean military occupation people from Falkland refused to speak Spanish and kept driving on the left breaking the Argentinean law. They should have a referendum there, you would see that that's British land. It is also a sign that the West is losing importance and new powers are going to expand, which is good as long as there are no wars. i hope common sense will prevail and Argentina will stop its blocage harming (a lot) the people they say they want to set free.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Dylan P

    So why are you so sure?? Why does Argentina protest so much over one subject when the English argue over everything we do? Because you are lied to; you want to subjegate a people who have been there for over 200 years; you only lie to yourselves because you can not think for yourselves – why this hatred after 30 yrs? When after 20; just reflection? Because you see only propiganda, because you are a generation that knows only hate and mistruths? Wake up and smell the tea!

    March 21, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. DavidCCBC

    I admire Cristina's tenacity to file a protest with the United Nations and I completely agree with her assertion that Great Britain is trying to militarize the South Atlantic. There is no need for Britain to have a military post on the Falkland Islands unless they fear that Argentina will still try to take back what they believe to be rightfully theirs. I don't believe that will happen, however. Now while I take Argentina's side here, I also agree that since the islands have a majority of British Citizens, Argentina has no right to take back the island at this point in time. But for now, I like Argentina's course of action to essentially alienate the island from their trade and also try to prevent the countries surrounding them from aiding the islands as well.

    September 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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