Argentina and Britain have once again been trading barbs over the disputed Falkland Islands, and now Argentina has declared what the British are calling “economic blockade” on the islands, refusing to allow ships flying the British flag to land in Argentinian ports. As the BBC reports:
Argentina has been turning away cruise ships carrying the British flag.It has also said oil exploration by five British companies off the islands was “illegal” and “clandestine”.This was a classification that, according to the Argentine government, paves the way for immediate criminal proceedings.
It is amazing and horribly telling that Argentina woos the Kelpers — as Falkland residents are often called — by penalties and threats. The alternative, a love offensive, offering the islanders deals and incentives to attract them into wanting to become citizens, doesn’t have the same appeal in Buenos Aires. It’s not as if there are no approaches that could be tried. Constitutional protections, international guarantees or special status a la Hong Kong are all possible solutions with the potential to warm Kelpers to the prospect of Argentine rule. If it wanted, Argentina could come up with a package that over time would begin to convince the islanders that their interests and way of life could be protected under nominal Argentine sovereignty.Argentina’s failure to pursue this route as the core of its strategy says many things about Argentine politics and culture. None of them are good, and the islanders are wise to avoid the embrace of a foster parent who shows every sign of being abusive.Meanwhile, Argentina persists in weakening its hand; its takeover of Spanish investments has led Spain to seek sanctions against it in the EU. Spain is one of Argentina’s most important potential allies on the Falklands issue as Spain’s claims on the British enclave of Gibraltar resemble Argentina’s claims on the Falklands.Competent governance and intelligent policy leadership in Argentina would have managed to resolve this issue decades ago, but as is abundantly clear on many issues, the Argentines have their own ideas about the way things should be done.