A majority of Uruguayans, 55%, believe their country must support Argentina's sovereignty claims over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands but an overwhelming 80% also want closer trade links with the Islands and reject the ban on Falklands flagged vessels to operate from Montevideo or other Uruguayan ports. In both cases neutral opinions range 11% and 12%.
The data is from a public opinion poll taken last December by Factum, which also discriminates according to the main political parties in Uruguay. In other words, 68% of those identified with the ruling coalition Broad Front support Argentina's claims while in the senior opposition National party, 44% and in the junior Colorado opposition party, 51%.
However despite this support, 59% of the interviews revealed that Uruguay should not take into account Argentina's claim, (and take advantage of business opportunities). This was the position of 57% of interviews identified with the ruling coalition; 67% from the National party and 58% of the Colorados. Disagreement with this stance stood at 27%.
When it comes to identification of the Islands, only 18% of interviews recognized the word Falklands, but 90%, Malvinas.
Interesting enough is the fact that a majority of Uruguayans are not aware what their government's position is regarding the Falklands/Malvinas. According to the poll only 41% answered correctly, Uruguay supports Argentina's claim; 50% could not answer, 7% said the country had a neutral position in the dispute and 2% that it supported London.
The percentage was particularly high among the 16/35 age group, 71% ignored the Uruguayan government's position and another 46% in the same age group did not have an idea who rules the Falklands/Malvinas. In effect 43% replied the UK, 9% said Argentina and 3% the Islanders.
In the age group 35 to 58, when asked who rules the Islands, 30% did not have a reply, and 29% among those above 58 years. Among those with university education, 23% ignored; 3% said Argentina and 8% the Islanders.
Regarding links and trade the picture is quite different: 64% reject the ban of Falklands flagged vessels from entering Uruguayan ports, compared to 25% that support it. And 80% favor strong trade relations with the Falklands/Malvinas and only 10% reject the position.
Likewise with Royal Navy vessels en route to the Falklands/Malvinas in routine missions, 54% to not support the ban while 32% agree.
The government of President Jose Mujica has supported the initiatives from neighboring Argentine president Cristina Fernandez, including banning Falklands flagged vessels entering Montevideo. However Mujica at the time said that the ban and in practical terms the South American blockade of the Falklands/Malvinas would be backed as long as the human rights of the people in the Islands are not affected.
When asked about the 2013 trip of two Uruguayan lawmakers as observers of the referendum in which an overwhelming majority of Islanders voted to remain a British Overseas Territory, 81% of interviews supported the trip while 9% disagreed.
However 31% believe that from a trade point of view, it is best for the Islands to continue under British rule while 35% disagree.
The poll also showed that 74% of Uruguayans are unaware if they can travel to the Islands from Montevideo, while 15% believe it is possible. But 27% thought of traveling as a tourist attraction but 70% never considered such an option. Main reasons for not travelling: other destinations (38%); not attractive enough (21%); cold weather (18%); and high cost of getting to the place (14%).
Finally 74% of those who have some information on the Falklands/Malvinas did so through television; 24% radio; 20% newspapers; 15% internet and 13%, books. Programs reporting on the Islands helped 47% to be aware and learn about the Falklands/Malvinas. These results are even with little variation regarding education and income level.