Uruguay suggests changing to the red ensign for Falklands’ vessels to operate in Montevideo
No changes are needed in current legislation to bar vessels flying the Malvinas flag from entering Uruguayan ports, but Uruguay also speculates that if the vessels change to the English flag there will be no problems, according to a report from the Foreign Affairs ministry.
“It is clear we don’t need to make changes to current legislation” for the implementation of the Mercosur decision barring Malvinas flagged vessels said Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro based on a report from the head of the Ministry’s International Law issues Desk, Carlos Mata.
“This reaffirms the fact that it is not possible to allow access to Uruguayan ports of any vessel flying such a flag”, said Almagro in a letter sent to the Ministry of Defence.
Thus Uruguayan government officials and from the private sector coincide that vessels with certificates awarded by the Falklands only need to fly the UK flag and not from the Islands to continue operating in Montevideo.
This way Uruguayan president Jose Mujica will be able to comply with his decision to bar vessels with flying the Malvinas flag but at the same time not affect other vessels, mainly fishing vessels from Spanish companies, which generate several million dollars for services and taxes in Montevideo, said Almagro.
However the Uruguayan services private sector is not so sure changing of flat can be that easy, since it is not an automatic process and certain certificates must be obtained for such an operation.
Maritime Law expert Alejandro Sciarra pointed out that the UK admits as a subsidiary the Falklands flag which “belongs to the UK”, but contains a “particular individualization”.
Sciarra believes that flying the English flag on Falklands vessels “won’t be automatic” and strongly argued that the UK might not yield since it is not in line with its current policy towards Malvinas and could also be interpreted as a demonstration of weakness before Mercosur (and Argentina).
The Uruguayan law expert also indicated that the Spanish fishing vessels currently operating from Malvinas and Montevideo could easily move to alternative ports, for example, in Namibia.