Argentina has banned two cruise ships from calling at Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego after they visited the Falkland Islands, apparently based on recent provincial legislation, according to reports in the Ushuaia media.
P&O Cruises’ small ship “Adonia” has been refused entry to Ushuaia on Monday and Princes Cruises’ “Star Princess” were also prevented from docking at the port.
A P&O Cruises spokeswoman said: “Following its call at the Falkland Islands on Saturday, February 25, the local port authorities have not permitted Adonia to berth at Ushuaia, Argentina.
“The ship is on an 87-night South America Adventure which departed Southampton on January 13, 2012.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said it was in contact with P&O Cruises, and was seeking “urgent clarification'' on the situation through diplomatic channels.
In Ushuaia the media said that decision follows the enforcement of the so called “Gaucho Rivero” provincial bill which impedes the docking of British flagged vessels.
However the president of the Ushuaia Tourism Chamber, Marcelo Lietti called for prudence and said the cruise industry has nothing to do with the Malvinas dispute.
“It’s an issue that must be addressed with utmost care”, said Lietti. “We all want the Malvinas Islands back under Argentine flag but the cruise industry has nothing to do with the Malvinas dispute” and recalled that the cruise industry is one of the main sources of income for the local economy.
Lietti said the bill refers to vessels involved in tasks related to the exploitation of natural resources, and “we consider cruise vessels have nothing to do with that issue”.
Furthermore “we want someone responsible to come up and show his face. All we know is the instruction barring the two cruise vessels came from the Provincial Ports authority”. He added the chamber was holding an urgent meeting.
“If the measure was intended to harm the English and the Falklands, the damage has been inflicted on all the people that were scheduled to work with the two cruises in Ushuaia”, said Lieti.
Last August the Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands Province legislature, after long debate approved a bill banning all permanence, docking, supplies or logistic support to all vessels with the British flag, or convenience flag, which are linked to exploration, drilling or natural resources exploitation in the Malvinas Islands basin, on the Argentine continental platform.
The first of the two-article bill “rejects any colonization or claim actions over the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands, islands which belong to the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands”.
The bill is also known as the Gaucho Rivero bill, in honour of an Argentine gaucho who allegedly flew the Argentine flag in the Falklands until the British landed and took over the Islands, (and since then) in 1833.
Gaucho Rivero has been turned into a legend and Malvinas history hero by the official President Cristina Fernandez administration, although there are other versions as to his true personality including claims he was a murderer and a common rustler.
In 1982 when the Argentine military invasion one of the fist names to be changed was “Puerto Rivero” for Stanley. However when more information about the ‘Gaucho Rivero’ was made public, the military garrison changed the name to Puerto Argentino.