– Hugo Chavez says Venezuelan troops would fight with Argentina over Falklands (Telegraph, Feb. 6, 2012):
Hugo Chavez has pledged that Venezuelan armed forces would fight alongside Argentina against Britain in any future conflict over the Falkland Islands at a regional meeting this weekend.
The eight member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance bloc, or ALBA, met to approve an agreement barring any boats flying Falkland Islands flags from docking in their ports.
“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, the Venezuelan president, said, calling it “the world in reverse”.
Tensions have increased to their highest level since the end of the conflict 30 years ago as the Duke of Cambridge, a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, began a six week tour of duty in the islands. The Royal Navy also announced last week it was sending its most powerful warship, HMS Dauntless, to the South Pacific.
“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.
At a regional meeting, Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, suggested the countries take stronger measures. “We have to talk about sanctions,” Mr Correa said.
William Hague told the Sky News Murnaghan programme that commemorations would go ahead to mark the 30-year anniversary of the Falklands conflict.
He said Britain supported the islanders’ self-determination and would seek to prevent Argentina from “raising the diplomatic temperature” on the issue.
Mr Hague said: “(The events) are not so much celebrations as commemorations.
“I think Argentina will also be holding commemorations of those who died in the conflict.
“Since both countries will be doing that I don’t think there is anything provocative about that.”
Deployments of a warship and Prince William to the Falkland Islands are “entirely routine”, the Foreign Secretary said.
Argentina has received the backing of Latin American countries for its claim of sovereignty over the remote, wind-lashed islands, which were occupied by Britain in 1833.
The dispute erupted into warfare April 2, 1981 when Argentine troops seized the islands, only to be routed in a 74-day war that claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 Britons.
Diplomatic friction between Argentina and Britain has intensified since 2010, when the Government authorised oil exploration in the waters near the islands.