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Argentina and Britain reignite tensions over Falkland Islands

South American trade group Mercosur sided with Argentina this week in its ongoing dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

By Staff writer / December 21, 2011

A King Penguin crosses in front of a flock of Gentoo Penguins near Port Stanley, in this May 16, 2010 file photo. The South American trade group Mercosur, wrapping up a two-day summit in Uruguay, has sided with Argentina in its ongoing dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Gary Clement/Reuters/File

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The South American trade group Mercosur, wrapping up a two-day summit in Uruguay, has sided with Argentina in its ongoing dispute about the Falkland Islands, which it calls the Malvinas, announcing it will ban boats with Falkland Islands flags from their ports.

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The countries that make up the Mercosur group include Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay, and they have increasingly voiced disapproval of British control over the islands, which lie 400 nautical miles off the coast of Argentina, and which have been in British hands since the 1830s.

The Telegraph has a good timeline of tensions between Britain and Argentina since a 1982 war between the two nations broke out.
 
 Note the flurry of activity since 2010. The dispute has become heightened over resources, as British firms explore for oil in the waters surrounding the islands.

 At the summit, in Montevideo, Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said:

"I want to thank everyone for their immense solidarity with the Malvinas. But you should know that when you are signing something on the Malvinas in favor of Argentina you are also doing it in your own defense. Malvinas is not an Argentine cause, it is a global cause, because in the Malvinas they are taking our oil and fishing resources. And when there is need for more resources, those who are strong are going to look for them wherever and however they can."

The ban announced by Mercosur does not include civilian ships, but it has caused a flurry of words across the Atlantic. The British foreign office responded to the announcement on Wednesday, saying, "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.”

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