An Argentine radical group involved in actions against cruise vessels and maritime traffic with the Falkland Islands has promised a similar campaign against Lan Chile offices in Buenos Aires, the airline which flies the only link of the Islands with the continent.
Toni Lopez from Resistencia Malvinas, who described the campaign against the cruise vessels calling in the Falklands a ‘success’, pledged that every Wednesday at midday the group will be protesting at Lan Chile’s downtown offices demanding that Aerolineas Argentinas takes over the weekly flight to the Islands and that passports be eliminated for Argentine nationals.
This week’s ‘Wednesday protest’ inauguration was not much of a success because Argentine public opinion was concentrated on the judicial reform congressional debate and massive concentrations all over the country rejecting the proposal.
However next week could be different because the protest at Lan’s offices will be taking place on Thursday at midday (Wednesday May first is a national holiday), which coincides with the 31st anniversary of the sinking of the cruiser “General Belgrano” by a British submarine with the loss of 323 lives, Argentina’s single major setback, and which marked the no-return escalation of the Falklands conflict.
In an interview with a local radio, Toni Lopez said that the idea of the Lan ‘siege’ followed the success of the campaign against cruise vessels calling in the Falklands, implementing the Gaucho Rivero Bill, which “was confirmed by the tourism stats released by the Malvinas illegitimate government”.
According to those stats “the cruise season was down 50% over a year ago, because cancellation doubled and the number of visitors was much lower than expected. This was to the benefit of Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia”, argued Toni Lopez.
In this new campaign “we are demanding that Aerolineas Argentinas takes over the weekly flight to Malvinas and from Argentina and that Argentine nationals should not need passports to travel to the Islands, as is the case now”.
The head of Resistencia Malvinas insisted on describing the cruise campaign as a ‘success’ recalling two incidents: when his group attack with stones and sticks against representatives’ offices from British maritime agencies in Argentina, which included the burning of a Union Jack, and when cruise passengers in Buenos Aires were retained by over six hours delaying the departure of the vessel to Montevideo.
Toni Lopez went further and said that following these two incidents and the summoning of Ambassador Alicia Castro in London by the Foreign Office to receive a formal protest, “we became aware we had the full support from the Argentine state”.
In effect, “when summoned to the Foreign Office Ambassador Alicia Castro told (Foreign Secretary William) Hague that the only possible way out to this situation was to begin negotiations over the Malvinas sovereignty”.
“The stones we throw and break windows of the representatives of the Malvinas usurpers in Buenos Aires have a big echo in London”, said Toni Lopez.
Finally regarding passports, he recalled that people travelling between Malvinas and Argentina, based on the understanding of 1971/72 only needed a ‘white card’, because it is not a foreign country, and this is contemplated in international law. This was the case until the 1982 war.
Likewise the validity of such understandings is not erased because of a war and remembered that when President Cristina Fernandez was a Senator she supported a bill which established that the only document valid to travel to Malvinas was the “white card”.
“Let’s hope she recalls that, and follows on her husband’s steps who disavowed the Malvinas fisheries and hydrocarbons understandings with the UK government; she must do the same with the 1999 agreement on communications and have Aerolineas Argentinas take over from Lan Chile”.