Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Argentina to Take Falklands Dispute to the UN

After weeks of tension between Britain and Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands (known in Argentina as the Malvinas), Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has announced that she will file an official complaint with the United Nations Security Council over the UK’s “militarization ” of the islands. At a ceremony to mark the release of a dictatorship-era military report on the 1982 Falklands War, Fernandez accused the UK of using the islands as a “trophy of war.”

Quoting John Lennon, the president urged the British to “give peace a chance,” adding: “We have suffered too much violence already to be attracted to military games and wars.” Infobae reports that she then instructed Foreign Minister H├ęctor Timerman to file the complaint on June 14, which will mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1982 war.

The announcement was likely made in response to the UK’s recent decision to send Prince William, who is currently a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, to serve on the Falklands. As reported in the February 1st Post, many in Argentina saw his presence as an act of provocation, and the Fernandez government had accused the UK of sending over Prince William “in the uniform of a conquistador.” Also last week the British navy announced that it would deploy one of its destroyers, the HMS Dauntless, to the area to participate in routine naval exercises, which has further angered Argentines.

While friction between the two countries is mounting, it is still tremendously unlikely to develop into open conflict as it did nearly 30 years ago.  Regardless, it is interesting to note the level of support that Argentina has amongst other countries in the region, considering the sensitive nature of the issue and the past hostilities.

Last Saturday the eight member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) bloc met in Caracas, where they approved a resolution similar to a December MERCOSUR motion to ban ships flying Falkland Islands flags from docking in their ports. Afterwards, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez even went so far as to declare that his country would fight alongside Argentina in the event of another conflict.

News Briefs

·         El Economista reports that a new Mexican documentary about the country’s education system has raised the ire of the powerful National Union of Education Workers, known as SNTE. The film was partially financed by Mexicanos Primeros, an education reform advocacy group, and uses information from studies the group has conducted in recent years. The AP claims that much of the footage of classrooms was apparently filmed by students themselves, and shows images such as teachers using cell phones in class and classrooms in disrepair.  

·         Officials in Mexico have reportedly arrested a lieutenant of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo. According to the L.A. Times, there is evidence to suggest that guns found in Torres Marrufo’s personal arsenal were purchased illegally through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms’ controversial Fast and Furious program.

·         El Proceso reports that “Narco manta” banners have appeared in the state of Guanajuato which call for a truce between rival drug gangs during Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to the state’s capital city next month. The banner is signed by the Caballeros Templarios (a successor group of the once-mighty Familia Michoacana), who warn their rivals in the Jalisco New Generation Cartel not to start anything while “His Holiness” is present.

·         The AP has an overview of the Venezuelan opposition’s primary elections, planned for next Sunday. While Chavez’s opponents still trail him in the polls, the upcoming October 7th elections are shaping up to be far more competitive than the elections in 2000 and 2006. The wire agency suggests that part of this is due to the appeal of opposition frontrunner Henrique Capriles, who “describes himself as a center-left progressive, saying he admires the approach of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.”

·         An Ecuadorean judge has ordered two journalists to pay President Rafael Correa $1 million each because of allegations of corruption the two made in a 2010 book entitled “The Big Brother.” The authors’ claim that Correa was purposefully awarding state contracts to his older brother Fabricio has been deemed libelous and unfounded by the judge.

·         After eight days of clashes with police, members of Panama’s indigenous Ngobe-Bugle tribe have agreed to end a roadblock of the Pan-American Highway. In response, the government has claimed it will release the 44 people it detained in the protests. The Ngobe-Bugle began the demonstration last week in an effort to protest the prospect of large-scale development on their western lands.

·         Officials in Jamaica melted around 2,000 firearms yesterday in a Kingston cement factory as part of a disarmament campaign on the island. Today they are due to destroy roughly half a ton of ammunition at the factory.  

·         The U.S. embargo of Cuba turned 50 yesterday, and shows no signs of ending any time soon. NPR’s All Things Considered reports on the rise of U.S. travel to the island in response to President Obama’s relaxation of restrictions, and the BBC takes a look at one legacy of the pre-embargo era: the country’s iconic 1950s American cars.

·         The Wall Street Journal profiles the declining influence of the United States in Latin America. The paper suggests that much of this is due to Republican unwillingness to approve Obama’s appointed ambassadors, for fear that he is too soft on leftist leaders. Six countries in the hemisphere (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay and Barbados) currently lack U.S. ambassadors.

·         Jose Cardenas has a new piece in Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government blog about the deteriorating security situation in Honduras.  Cardenas’ prescription is a significant increase in U.S. involvement, as well as an extradition treaty between the two countries. He also laments the fact that Honduras’ President Porfirio Lobo “is no President Uribe of Colombia.” However, considering recent allegations that Uribe colluded with paramilitary groups, many Hondurans may be grateful. 

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