The Uruguayan government through the Ministry of Defence gave the green light to a local air cargo company, Airclass which requested authorization to make a commercial flight to the Falkland Islands sometime this month.
The airline made the normal procedure of requesting permission for such a flight from the Uruguayan Civil Aviation and Aeronautics infrastructure agency, but given the ‘sensitivity of the issue and its possible political consequences’ the Defence ministry was consulted on the matter.
The reply was that there is no problem as long as the company “complies with all the technical requisites”.
The Falklands are a British Overseas Territory but Argentina claims sovereignty and is involved in an aggressive campaign and diplomatic escalade with London demanding talks on the Islands sovereignty.
The campaign has turned so aggressive that Argentina’s pretension to limit air and sea access to the Falklands and threatening companies involved in the fishing and oil industries in the Islands has been described as a ‘blockade’.
The flight is an attempt to link commercially the Falklands with Uruguayan suppliers given the interest shown in the Islands when a Uruguayan delegation of business people and agriculture experts visited the Falklands last February.
Guillermo Wild, vice-president from the Uruguay-British chamber of commerce confirmed contacts between Falklands companies interested in goods and supplies from Uruguay, but did not have much information on the volume of freight, if any, had been confirmed.
Last week the Argentine ambassador in Montevideo Dante Dovena downplayed the real interest of Uruguayan companies of doing business with the Falklands.
“In reality it mustn’t be a great deal selling or shipping to the Malvinas because apparently so far not a single businessman has put his name in the aircraft that is going sometime this month. Just think there are only 2.500 inhabitants much less than any neighbourhood of Montevideo. The whole issue must be seen in its true dimension” said Ambassador Doverna.
Argentina officially informed Uruguay that it does not oppose a commercial flight as long as there is no government involvement in the operation.
From the Falklands, Member of the Legislative Assembly Sharon Halford quoted by the Uruguayan press said that the air flight announcement is ‘marvellous news’.
“It’s wonderful, Uruguay is simply complying with International law regarding free trade”, said MLA Halford.
Last week also the Uruguayan presidency clarified some statements from Foreign Minister Luis Almagro who established some sort of parallelism between the alleged Argentine blockade of the Falklands/Malvinas with that of Cuba, saying that Uruguay will not support or be part of any action that violates the human rights of the Falklands community.
The official five-point communiqué from the Uruguayan Executive says that “there is no blockade to the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands by any country of the continent”, adding that “in no case is it remotely acceptable the comparison ‘made by the media’, since as has been indicated afore, there is no blockade of the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands, as does effectively exist a blockade which violates international law regarding Cuba”.