Autors: Pablo A. Rivero Morales .
Other key players in the Region could be seeking to displace not only British but also NATO control in the South Atlantic, in a new diplomatic and geopolitical chapter for this yet unsolved issue.
Argentina and Great Britain have disputed the sovereignty of Falkland Islands (referred in Spanish as “Malvinas”) ever since the South American country gained its independence in early 19th century.
In April 1982 Argentinian military Junta began an armed intervention in order to “regain”, the islands - a vindication constantly present on Argentineans collective memory, as well as an excuse to remain in power after several years of dictatorship successions, serious human rights violations, corruption, and economic instability.
As a response, British government under conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, who at that time was also challenged by Labour unions, saw Argentinean aggression as an opportunity to divert the public opinion attention towards the imperative defence of the Britishness overseas and having secured the support of the US did not hesitate to engage in an armed conflict.
After Argentinean military and diplomatic defeat just two months after the invasion, Falkland and other South Atlantic islands returned under British rule and led to the fall of authoritarian regime in Argentina soon after. Ever since Argentina has been able to maintain democratic governments holding the dogmatic rhetoric of: “las Malvinas son Argentinas” (Malvinas are Argentinian).
Although addressed by UN Special Committee on Decolonisation as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, and recurrently delivered by every Argentinean government as a permanent demand at international forums, Malvinas/Falkland conflict remains very much as a two-state bilateral issue.
However, the latest tension between Buenos Aires and London has escalated outside the bilateral issue of two parts. In December 2011 Rockhopper Exploration - a British oil company- officially announced a successful oil drilling in the North Falkland Basin, thus, increasing substantially British oil reserves in the South Atlantic.
Only a few days after the company’s announcement, Mercosur members agreed close ports to Falklands-Flagged Ships. The statement did not remain as pure rhetorical. In fact, Uruguay acted accordingly with a fishing vessel from the Falkland’s a milestone action for Mercosur in favour of one of its member–state demand.
As part of the tension escalation, British government announced on the 31st of January 2012 that the Destroyer Dauntless – the most modern British warship equipped with high-tech missiles- sails south to the Falklands, as journalist Leandro Boix reported to the Mexican “El Diario”.
On top of that, UK’s Prince William is currently serving a 6-week assignment as rescue pilot in the British Falkland Islands, which is an event closely followed by Media. Although it may be more appealing for paparazzi, the issue adds up another load of tension as resembles that during the 1982 Falkland/Malvinas War, Prince William’s uncle, Prince Andrew, served as a combat pilot.
Great Britain is making its point clear: they are not willing to withdraw from the Falkland’s. However, a new Argentinian diplomatic offensive is expected commemorating the 30th anniversary of the end of hostilities. On the 14th of June this year the UN Committee on Decolonisation will address the issue.
Unlike 30 years ago, Argentina is now under a democratic government led by President Christina Kirchner, recently re-elected for a new term with large political support. Moreover, the Region is not the “backyard” of American power anymore, key actor like Brazil play rather different role nowadays and may swing the power balance against Britain’s quest for Falklands.
Argentina also enjoys political support from UNASUR, Alba countries, Mercosur and, particularly, Brazil. As a consolidated Regional leader and also global emerging power, Brazil seems to be keen on seeing Brits withdrawing from the South Atlantic.
Late February Wikileaks published on its website a new set of private documents, this time as a result of its “collaborative partnership” with the anarchist hacking network Anonymous. The release gathers thousands of e-mails from the private global intelligence company Stratfor (http://www.stratfor.com/).
“Consulted by the director of Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence, Reva Bhalla, Paulo Freire, informant in Brazil, said: "They [Brazil] believe that Argentina is not a threat. They fear more to the UK because of the link with NATO. The latest Brazilian national plan of defence said that the South Atlantic should be a priority for Brazil in the security area”.
Avoiding any speculation, it is envisaged that Falklands issue is about the natural resources, such as oil. In fact, British oil companies have begun their activities years ago. Moreover, as analyst Jorge Castro argues, South Atlantic is also one of the biggest fishing reserves remaining in the world, which currently happen to be also under British authority.
However, it may not be all about natural resources. Beyond the indisputable economic relevance acquired in recent years, BRIC countries (like Brazil) seem to be settling for stronger political visibility and are clearly reaching for leadership in regions where NATO has not yet been challenged.
Considering the Brazilian aspiration of getting a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, recent diplomatic manoeuvres by Argentinean government, and the security policies in South America, a military intervention against British or any other NATO member is a very unlikely scenario. However, it must be taken into account that the interests and balance of power in the Region are both changing considerably. And more questions, also to NATO will be raised.
 Full list of Non-Self Governing Territories is available on the site: http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/nonselfgovterritories.shtml
 “State Department ratifies Falklands’ dispute is a bilateral Argentina/UK issue” MercoPress, 10th February 2012. Retrieved from: http://en.mercopress.com/2012/02/10/state-department-ratifies-falklands-dispute-is-a-bilateral-argentina-uk-issue
 Company’s full press release could be read on: http://www.rockhopperexploration.co.uk/pdf/End_of_Drilling-Campaign_FINAL.pdf
 “Tensión en Malvinas: en el fondo, petróleo” El Diario, Mexico, 13th February 2012, retrieved from: http://www.diario.com.mx/notas.php?f=2012/02/13&id=6aad3ba2f79a8d9843841fefe3660527
 “Malvinas: la ONU tratará el reclamo” 24th febrero 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.argentina.ar/_es/pais/C11273-malvinas-la-onu-tratara-el-reclamo.php
 “WikiLeaks Partners With Anonymous, Releases Security Firm’s Emails” Mashable 27th February 2012. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2012/02/27/wikileaks-anonymous/
 Full report and documents can be read on: http://wikileaks.org/the-gifiles.html
 “Wikileaks, revelan datos sobre Malvinas” La Nación, Buenos Aires, 28th February 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1452238-wikileaks-revelan-datos-sobre-malvinas