Bloc backs Argentina over Falklands

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and other leaders in the left-leaning ALBA bloc have backed Argentina in its long-running dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and other leaders in the left-leaning ALBA bloc have backed Argentina in its long-running dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman thanked Mr Chavez and other presidents for their support at the meeting in Caracas.

“The issue of the Malvinas Islands is an issue that concerns us, especially with the strong language that has emerged from the British government, accusing Argentina of being colonialist,” Mr Chavez said, calling it “the world in reverse”.

The dispute heated up when the Duke of Cambridge, a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter co-pilot, was assigned to the islands on a military tour, along with a warship in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s April 1982 invasion, which sparked a 10-week war.

Argentina, which claims Britain stole the archipelago 180 years ago, calls them the Malvinas and has protested at the British deployment.

The eight-member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance bloc approved an agreement barring any boats flying Falkland Islands flags from docking in their ports.

“I’m speaking only for Venezuela, but if it occurs to the British empire to attack Argentina, Argentina won’t be alone this time,” Mr Chavez said.

Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa suggested the countries take stronger measures. “We have to talk about sanctions,” he said.

Argentina hopes diplomatic and economic measures will pressure Britain to comply with United Nations resolutions encouraging both countries to negotiate the islands’ sovereignty. Britain has refused to do so.

Turning to economic matters, Mr Chavez told the group of presidents that their countries should work together to strengthen their economies to withstand global troubles. He called for “a more ambitious project” in economic co-operation.

“The economic issue is first on the agenda. You all see how the world is. There’s a terrible crisis,” he told the leaders, including Cuba’s Raul Castro and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.

Mr Chavez said countries within the ALBA group should expand their use of a virtual currency known as the Sucre. He has promoted the Sucre since 2010 as an accounting unit to replace the dollar for some trade. Venezuela has used the system to pay for some of its food imports from Bolivia and Ecuador.

Also attending the televised meeting were the leaders of ALBA members Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, along with non-member Haiti.

Mr Chavez said Suriname’s president, Desi Bouterse, would arrive today to join the meeting.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox