Argentina, now ruled by a democratic government, condemns the military junta that made the decision to invade in a last-gasp effort to save its crumbling hold on power. But Fernandez says her country is still in the right to claim the islands — 300 miles off Argentina’s coast — which Argentine invaders were unable to hold from a fleet of more than 100 ships deployed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
In recent weeks, Argentina has embarked on a multi-pronged effort that has included stopping British vessels from docking and winning support from neighboring countries to restrict port access to ships flying the Falkland Islands flag. The Argentine industry minister called on companies to reduce British imports, and the president has accused Cameron of “near stupidity” for refusing to negotiate.
In Argentina’s latest gambit, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman informed the London and New York stock markets that oil exploration companies in the Falkland Islands could risk civil and criminal penalties for operating “illegally,” as he put it. “I think they have to realize that the Empire is dead,” he said in an interview last year. “And at some point, they will have to accept to negotiate with us.”
The Argentine president’s efforts have generated backing from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the actor Sean Penn, who told the news media in Buenos Aires that “the world will not tolerate the ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology” on the part of Britain.
But residents of the Falkland Islands say Argentina’s efforts have only hardened their resolve, among them Sharon Halford, a sixth-generation islander. “If you want to get people on board who you want to take over and bring to your way of thinking, it’s not the best thing to isolate them and keep them isolated,” Halford said. “I would want to be friendly with them.”
Residents of the islands say Argentina’s efforts have been largely symbolic — annoying to the 3,000 islanders but far from a chokehold.
“It hasn’t been terribly successful,” said Stephen Luxton, the director of mineral resources on the islands. “We’re in a very remote place. We’re used to working around problems.”
Cameron’s government, though, has been concerned enough by Argentina’s efforts to deploy the destroyer HMS Dauntless to the region while holding meetings to discuss security in London.