Argentina is again putting pressure on Uruguay, this time on the incoming government which takes office next March first, insisting no UK military aircraft linked to the Falkland Islands be allowed to land in the country's airports and Falklands should not be treated as state with which Uruguay has extensive trade and business exchanges.
Last Tuesday Uruguay's next foreign minister economist Ernesto Talvi was invited to Buenos Aires to meet his future peer Felipe Solá to address an ample bilateral and regional agenda in anticipation of the new administration of president Luis Lacalle Pou, and although the Falklands/Malvinas issue was not a specific issue, it was brought up by Talvi's hosts.
In effect in mid morning Tuesday the appointed ambassador in Uruguay, Alberto Iribarne, and a close confident of president Alberto Fernandez, summoned by the Argentine Senate Agreements Committee revealed that the Malvinas question was one of the outstanding issues of his future mission in Montevideo.
Iribarne revealed that last year, there had been thirteen military flights from Uruguay to the Malvinas Islands, which violates a tacit understanding with our neighbors, because the only reason to support UK military aircraft in Montevideo is in emergency situations.
Iribarne also added that he had to work on the respective visits of Uruguayan lawmakers to the Islands, and the reciprocal visits of Rural Societies from Uruguay and the Falklands, which he emphasized are examples of the existence of a strong British lobby in Uruguay in support of the Malvinas.
The Solá/Talvi meeting and lunch, also included Daniel Filmus, the new Malvinas, South Atlantic Islands and Antarctica Secretary, deputy foreign minister Pablo Tettamanti and ambassador Iribarne, and apparently according to Argentine media reports was when the Falklands issue was discussed. The diplomats thanked Talvi for Uruguay's standing historic support of Argentina's Falklands/Malvinas claim, and pledged greater cooperation in Antarctica between the Argentine bases and Uruguay's Artigas research station.
It must be recalled that on his inauguration speech president Alberto Fernandez underlined that the Malvinas question claim was a priority of his foreign policy but so far has not applied the aggressive methodology of previous Kirchnerite governments such as the attempts to blockade the Islands.
Likewise it must be remembered that Uruguayan lawmakers particularly from the incoming multicolor coalition have been invited on several occasions to the Falklands and the father of the next president, he himself a former president, Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera has also been in the Falklands.
The new Argentine policy towards the Falklands' issue is a significant change from that of the administration of ex president Mauricio Macri, who even signed in 2016 a joint communiqué improving UK/Argentina relations and foundations for a constructive cooperation in different fields, including a specific chapter on the South Atlantic which among other things opened the way for the identification of Argentine combatants remains buried in the Falklands, relaunched joint fisheries scientific research cruises and paved the way for the second commercial flight between the Islands and the continent, this time with Sao Paulo, Brazil and a stopover at Cordoba.
As to UK military aircraft linked to the Falklands landing in Carrasco on emergency situations, ambassador Iribarne said that thirteen in one year is a bit too much, more than once a month. However UK military aircraft, either coming or going to the Islands, have also been landing in south Brazil airports and this situation was exposed and denounced by the Macri administration.
The fact is that the business, mail, travel and even family links between Uruguay and the Falklands existed long before the intensification of the conflict with Argentina. For decades, until 1972, the Montevideo/Stanley sea link was the Falklands connection with the rest of the world, and so was much bilateral trade.
Lately Argentina has also been complaining about the annual presence of a Falkland Islands Stand, in the UK's pavilion, in Uruguay's main rural show, which merely reflects the growing exchange between Uruguayan and Falklands farmers.
The incoming government of president Luis Lacalle Pou has made clear that Uruguay's foreign policy will be based on the country's interests and not on ideologic preferences as has happened with presidents Vazquez and Mujica supporting undemocratic regimes such as Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other rogue states.
But neighbors are neighbors for ever, so Uruguay will again have to practice a balancing act between the livehood link with the Falklands and support for Argentina's claim over the Islands. Although history also indicates that the Malvinas as part of the insular territories in the vast ocean extension from the Gulf of Guinea to the Magellan Strait, under Spanish rule depended from the naval station of Montevideo, on direct orders from the King of Spain.