21 Jan 2012

Argentinian activists burn Union flags in Falklands protest

5:07 pm on 21 January 2012

Activists have protested outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires over the Falkland Islands.

About 100 protesters gathered to burn Union flags in front of the embassy and demand Argentina break off diplomatic relations with the UK.

Tension has been increasing ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War in April.

Argentina is demanding talks on its claim to sovereignty over the territory, which it calls Las Malvinas.

But the UK has reaffirmed that the Falklands will remain British for as long as its inhabitants want.

'English out'

The protest in Buenos Aires was organised by the Socialist Workers' Movement (MST), whose activists carried banners reading "Government break off relations now," and "English out of the Malvinas".

"It is unacceptable that they send reinforcements and that the little prince (William) should come on manoeuvres," said protest leader Wilma Ripoll.

Ms Ripoll added that the MST was planning further protests before Prince William arrives in the Falklands next month for a tour of duty as a helicopter rescue pilot.

The protest comes amid an escalating war of words between London and Buenos Aires over the islands, which have a population of about 3,100.

Argentine leaders were particularly angered by comments made by the British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, when he said Argentina's demand for sovereignty was "like colonialism" because it ignored the islanders' right to self-determination.

He also said he had reviewed the Falklands' military defences and was prepared to send reinforcements if necessary.

Tension over the remote South Atlantic archipelago has been growing since 2010, when British companies began drilling for oil in waters off the Falklands.

Argentina has been rallying support for its claim from other Latin American nations, and President Cristina Fernandez has accused Britain of "arrogance" and "taking Argentine resources".

Britain has held the islands since the 1830s, but Argentina insists it has a prior claim and in 1982 launched an invasion.

A British task force recaptured the islands in a short but bloody war in which 649 Argentine and 255 British servicemen were killed.

The US has called for dialogue between London and Buenos Aires to resolve the dispute.