The controversial president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has said that his country will provide troops should Argentina decide to go to war again over the Falkland Islands.
In a further ratcheting up of the war of words that has been ongoing over the last few weeks in the run up to the 30-year anniversary of the 1982 war over the Falklands Islands, Chavez is reported in an article in the Daily Mail on Feb. 6 as saying at a meeting:
"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. I’m speaking only for Venezuela, but if it occurs to the British empire to attack Argentina, Argentina won’t be alone this time"
The recent arrival of Prince William on the islands in his capacity as a search and rescue helicopter pilot has added to the tension in the area as has the British government's decision to send a warship to the region. HMS Dauntless is a Type 45 destroyer armed with enough missiles which, one navy source told the Daily Mail, could ‘take out all of South America’s fighter aircraft, let alone those of Argentina’. It has also been revealed that a nuclear submarine is being deployed to the area. Celebrations are planned in the UK for the 30th anniversary of the war starting from May 20.
The Latin American press has a different view to the situation. Prensa Latina says that:
"The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), made up of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, on Saturday approved a special agreement to backup up Argentina's call."
Argentina has been calling for the restoration of the islands, known as Las Malvinas in Latin America, to Argentinian sovereignty but by peaceful means. There have been protests outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires, with some protesters burning the Union Jack
The Buenos Aires Herald reports that the Argentinian Vice President Amado Boudou believes that the support of the other ALBA countries shows that Argentina has a "serious and solid foreign policy". However, the Vice President is insisting that Argentina wants to continue with diplomatic negotiations and peaceful discussions regarding the future of the islands
However, an article in Time World says that local Falkland Island newspaper 'Penguin News' has reported islanders are receiving threatening phone calls and e-mails believed to be coming from the South American mainland. The article reports:
"It's intimidating to be woken in the night to someone shouting at you in Spanish," says Lisa Watson, editor of The Penguin News, the main and only newspaper of the Falkland Islands, the British Overseas Territory claimed by Argentina as Las Malvinas.
With Hugo Chavez on one side offering Argentina his troops and British Foreign Minister, William Hague, on the other insisting that the deployment of a warship and a nuclear submarine to the area are "entirely routine", the situation in the South Atlantic continues to deteriorate.