Uruguayan president Jose Mujica marked distance from Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner and said that denying clearance to a Falkland Islands bound British destroyer to call in Montevideo was based on previous decisions on the issue and “not in a defence of interests against the UK”, reports the local daily Ultima Noticias.
“Hi Pepe, Pepe Mujica, president of Uruguay, I want to thank you in the name of all Argentines for your immense gesture on not allowing an English naval vessel from taking provisions and fuel in Uruguayan territory”, wrote Mrs Kirchner on Thursday in her Twitter.
“There is no such gesture”, replied Mujica to Cristina’s Twitter, adding that the decision denying HMS Gloucester authorization to enter Montevideo was decided based on “previous records on the issue”.
The decision was based on “what previous governments had done”, said Mujica while government sources underlined there’s no link “with a joint defence of the region”.
Mujica added he would adopt the same decision whenever “military issues and civilian issues get tangled up”.
Government sources said Uruguay “has very a good relation with the United Kingdom, but the criteria was adopted taking into account records and the current situation with the (Argentine) neighbours”.
Last Monday President Mujica informed the regular cabinet meeting that the decision regarding HMS Gloucester was adopted because Uruguay is intent in giving priority to bilateral relations with Argentina given a long agenda of pending issues, and following the several years long conflict over the construction of pulp mill which was only overcome a few weeks ago.
Mujica was forced to make a statement because the Montevideo press revealed that the Royal Navy South Atlantic patrol HMS Gloucester heading for the Falklands had been authorized to call in Montevideo for supplies and fuel, but a few hours before reaching Montevideo the clearance was withdrawn.
The Uruguayan president also admitted to have met privately with British ambassador Patrick Mullee to explain the decision arguing that “it was not intended to hamper the good relations and links between Uruguay and the UK”.
In her twitter message Mrs. Kirchner also indicated that” “I’ve read somewhere that you’ve explained to the British ambassador that you wanted to preserve good relations with Argentina. But I think that besides that, it’s a joint defence of the region because they (the British) also come to plunder our natural resources. Today is oil, tomorrow could be fisheries: Today is Argentina: Tomorrow it could be Uruguay or any other country of South America, wherever they, up there (in the northern hemisphere) are missing something and need to get hold of resources”.
But Uruguayan government sources were emphatic, “in no moment did we believe or do we believe that England comes to plunder our resources”.
Sources added that “several factors were taken into account for the decision” cancelling HMS Gloucester’s permission, and finally it was agreed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to overlook “the bilateral relation with Argentina” since the reconstruction of links between both countries “is only beginning”, concludes the report.