Tensions Rise Again over Falkland Islands

31 March, 2015

Argentina has officially protested Britain's recent announcement of increased military spending for the Falklands, a group of islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The two countries have disputed ownership of the territory, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, for many years.

Last week, British defense minister Michael Fallon called Argentina a "very live threat" to the islands. He announced a 10-year, $268 million budget to increase security in the Falklands. He said military and civilian personnel levels on the islands would remain the same.

Argentina immediately denounced the move as provocative and political. An Argentine foreign ministry official told reporters that the British government took the action to gain support in upcoming elections.

Now, Argentina's Foreign Affairs Minister Hector Timerman has sent protest letters to several international organizations including the United Nations' Decolonization Committee and the Organization of American States.

Tensions Rise Again over Falkland Islands
In this April 2, 2014 file photo, activists sing the national anthem during a ceremony marking the 32th anniversary of the start of the Falkland conflict, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

Mr. Timerman described the increase in British military spending as "unjustified." He wrote that the move shows Britain is depending on "guns and aggression" to find a solution to the territorial dispute. The letter also said that Argentina would only settle such problems by negotiations and international law.

Residents, some carrying British flags, parade during a rally in support of United Kingdom control over the islands in Port Stanley, Falkland or Malvinas Islands Sunday, March 10, 2013

The island group is less than 500 kilometers from Argentina and almost 13,000 kilometers from Britain. But, Britain has ruled the territory for almost two hundred years. Most of the 3,000 people who live on the islands are of British descent. In 2013, almost 100 percent of Falklanders voted to remain a British territory.

In 1982, Argentina seized control of the islands. Britain deployed military forces to recapture the territory. It was successful. But, more than 900 people were killed in the 74 days of fighting.

The war helped then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher win re-election. However, last week, Argentine Foreign Ministry official for the Malvinas, Daniel Filmus, said that the situation would not be repeated. He said his country would not be drawn into war again.

I'm ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Caty Weaver.


Words in This Story

personnel n. the people who work for a particular company or organization

provocative adj. causing discussion, thought, argument, etc.

justify v. to provide or be a good reason for (something): to prove or show (something) to be just, right, or reasonable

descent n. the people in your family who lived before you were born: your ancestors

Who should control the Falklands, in your opinion? How should the dispute be settled? We want to know what you think. Post your thoughts in the comment section.