By John Fowler - It’s no good if the Falkland Islanders just keep on saying that they don’t want to be Argentine; you can’t define yourself in terms of a negative, you must decide what or who you want to be and proclaim it positively.”
Luis Alberto Lacalle, the Ex-President of Uruguay, is currently in the Falkland Islands on a week-long tour, along with Uruguayan Elected Representative Mario Jaime Trobo. Lacalle served as President from 1990 to 1995 and Trobo is presently a Member of the International Affairs Committee.
Uruguay's next ambassador to Argentina Hector Lescano said that bilateral relations have always been 'cordial', even in difficult times, and there is no doubt that when president-elect Tabare Vazquez takes office, Uruguay's full support to Argentina's claims over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands will be maintained.
To the loss of transshipments from Argentina, estimated in 100 million dollars a year by Montevideo port authorities, must be added the 60 million dollars following the ban on Falklands' flagged vessels from operating in Uruguay, claimed Mario Baubeta, president of Uruguay's Navigation Centre.
Argentine Foreign minister Hector Timerman said that relations with Uruguay are going through “a good moment”, contrary to recent statements from Uruguayan Vice-president Danilo Astori, and described as ‘false’ the information that two Falklands’ flagged fishing vessels had called into Uruguayan ports.
Lawmaker Jan Check is “cautiously optimistic” about the future of the Falkland Islands despite Argentina’s blockade and attempts to wreck the Islands economy, but if development continues to thrive, some neighbours will think twice before continuing to support the aggressive policy of President Cristina Fernandez towards the disputed South Atlantic Islands.
The Argentine blockade can’t stop the Falkland Islands and “if Argentina believes that these aggressions are going to change the mind and spirit of the Islanders, they are dead wrong, much on the contrary”, said Falklands’ lawmakers currently visiting Guatemala on a tour of Central America and Mexico.
For consular purposes the Uruguayan Foreign Affairs ministry refers to the Malvinas Islands, which are claimed by Argentina with the support of Mercosur members, as the “dependent territory” of the “Islas Falklands”.
Mercosur country members are scheduled to hold a meeting in Rio do Janeiro to agree on a common protocol for all vessels originating in the Falkland Islands and calling at regional ports, announced Uruguay’s Defence minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro.
The Caribbean island nation of Dominica has joined Antigua and Barbuda in seeking to clear the air on an ALBA statement supporting Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands, in Buenos Aires dispute with Britain over the South Atlantic Islands.