Falklands tensions on the rise after dockers' union boycotts UK vessels


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The Independent Online

Shipyard workers in Argentina have been banned from working on British vessels, as tensions between the two countries continue to rise in the lead-up to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war.

The Argentine Confederation of Transport Workers (CATT) released a statement urging staff on the docks, as well as those who service British aircraft arriving in the country, to abandon their work on UK vessels as the two nations dispute the right to govern the Falklands, known as las Malvinas on the South American continent.

"We have resolved to boycott any ship with the British flag, or with the lying and invented flag of the Falklands, or with any flag of convenience which the British pirates use," the union said.

"The world should know that Argentinians are a peaceful people, with deep humanitarian feelings, but with a firm conviction to recover the usurped territory."

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has intensified demands for Britain to agree to sovereignty talks in recent months. The UK has refused to hold talks unless Falkland islanders request them.

The move is just the latest incident to ratchet up tension in the run-up to the 30-year anniversary of the 1982 conflict. Last week, Argentina lodged a formal protest at the United Nations, claiming that Britain's decision to send a modern destroyer to the Islands was part of a "militarisation" process that posed a "grave risk for international security".

The British government has rejected the claim, describing the deployment of HMS Dauntless and an RAF team which includes Prince William, as "routine".

Argentina's Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, also claimed that the UK had sent a nuclear submarine to the region in an "unjustified defence of self-determination". Vessels flying the Falklands flag are already prevented from docking in Argentina and other ports in the region after the South American trading bloc Mercosur – representing nations including Brazil and Uruguay – agreed to close its ports to its vessels in December.

At the time, a foreign office spokesman said: "We are very concerned by this latest Argentine attempt to isolate the Falkland Islands people and damage their livelihoods, for which there is no justification."