Thursday, 2 May 2013

Falkland Islands’ economy ‘strangling’ and intimidation by Argentina reported in British media

Under the heading for “Argentine bullies threaten cruises: Country accused of trying to 'strangle' the Falklands by intimidating liners that stop there”, the article mentions twelve incidents in which cruise vessels were targeted and reported to the UK Foreign Office.

Since last November this comes “to typically one a fortnight” in which protestors or industrial action by militant unions in Argentine ports have disrupted vessels that make a stopover in the Falklands on their itinerary.

“Protests have included officials refusing entry to Argentine ports or delaying ships, masked militants attacking and ransacking shipping company offices in Buenos Aires and cruise schedules either altered or abandoned to appease locals”, says the Daily Mail adding that some cruise ships have cancelled visits to the Falklands because of the fallout from continuing tensions over the sovereignty dispute.

According to Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire who has condemned the intimidation and has summoned Argentine Ambassador Alicia Castro to complain about these sometimes violent actions, the incidents have involved 10,000 passengers.

“The effect on so many visitors is a huge blow to the Islands’ tourist industry, based in the capital, Stanley, which is worth as much as £10million and employs a quarter of the population”.

Dick Sawle, an elected member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly has described the situation “as yet another example of a country of over 40million people attempting to bully and threaten our 3,000 people and strangle the economy of our home.

‘We regret this, and strongly encourage the tourism industry to stand firm, and not to allow themselves to be scared into assisting attempts to damage our economy in what is tantamount to an economic blockade.

‘There are countless families in the islands whose livelihoods depend on the cruise vessel industry. For over a decade we have enjoyed welcoming visitors from all over the world to see our wonderful wildlife and heritage.’

In December two cruise ships, the Seven Seas Mariner, which carries 700 passengers and the Regatta, which carries 600, cancelled visits to the Falklands because of intimidation.

The following month British cruise firm P&O announced two of its liners, Arcadia and Adonia, responded by scrapping stopovers in Argentina during their round-the-world cruises to avoid disruptions.

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