Brazil on Tuesday defended its decision to allow British military aircraft flying to the Falkland Island to call at Brazilian airports, landings that annoyed Argentina. The complaint is not new, and Brazilian policy under different governments over the years has been one of accepting those calls.
On this occasion, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said that while it backed Argentina's sovereignty claims over the Islands, that support does not affect its important partnership with Britain.
Argentina's ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Scioli, last week complained over the increase in Royal Air Force flights calling in Brazil on their way to the Falklands, which Argentina disputes sovereignty with UK.
Scioli said there had been seven Royal Air Force flights in January that had landed at Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre.
The Brazilian position of authorizing the over flight and landing of British military aircraft on the Falklands route is guided by the principle of not contributing to the modernization and expansion of the United Kingdom's military resources and war potential in that archipelago, the Brazilian ministry said.
The note said Brazil authorized the landing and docking of British aircraft and vessels on their way to the Falklands when the requests involved emergency situations, search and rescue missions, or health and humanitarian reasons.
The Brazilian foreign ministry said the number of over flight and landing authorizations granted to British military aircraft varied from year to year, ranging from 150 some years to just one in others.
The British government dismissed the Argentine concerns saying they were routine flights and any claims of militarization were wholly false.
Back in 2017, when a similar Argentine complaint concerning RAF aircraft landing and refueling in Brazilian airports, authorities said permission was humanitarian motivated.
“Brazil accepts the landing of aircraft for humanitarian motives. The Hercules from the RAF are catalogued that way, since they are internationally recognized as search and rescue, SAR” said a spokesperson from the government of then president Michel Temer.
At the time the Brazilian government spokesperson said, Brazil does not allow the British transport by air or sea, (which is not considered humanitarian), of troops or military provisions to or from the South Atlantic Islands.
The Temer administration explained that the three conditions under which Brazil accepts exceptionally UK military flights which are heading to or coming from the Falklands are: humanitarian emergency situations, (which include the support and maintenance of SAR equipment which the British have in the Islands); air emergency, and medical emergency situations.
In 2017 Argentine complained that four RAF Hercules flights had landed in Brazil for fuelling: two in Porto Alegre, Salgado Filho terminal, and two in Sao Paulo, Guarulhos international airport.
The spokesperson added that “since mid XIX century, when Brazil was an empire, it has recognized the Malvinas Islands are Argentine”. Furthermore “contacts between Brazil and Argentina are frequent, and the issue can be addressed at different levels”.
The Brazilian government source added that in 2015, under removed Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff the number of these flights totaled 15, while during 2016, under the new administration of president Michel Temer they were down to half.
“Under the previous government as with this government, the Brazilian position has been in accordance with the same humanitarian motives, taking into account that the Hercules aircraft are recognized internationally as search and rescue”, pointed out the spokesperson.
Finally it must be remembered that Britain and Portugal have been long time allies (against their common 'enemy' Spain) and when Napoleon forces invaded the Iberian peninsula, the Royal Navy took the Portuguese royal family to the safe haven of Brazil. Brazil then became an empire and the successor of the Portuguese family, Dom Pedro II, decided to remain in the colony (the rest of the family returned to Lisbon following the imprisonment of Napoleon), while Rio do Janeiro became in fact a non official base of the Royal Navy on the Atlantic ocean.