LATIN AMERICA: Argentina Gets Rowdy
Don’t Mess With Me, Argentina
Argentina, South America’s second-largest country, has been making a lot of headlines lately: saber-rattling over the Falkland Islands as the 30th anniversary of that war with Britain nears … getting back into the arms business … and threatening to pick a fight with another European nation over a giant energy company.
You Say Falklands, I Say Malvinas
Thirty years ago this month, a Britsh battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, sailed for the South Atlantic to reclaim the Falkland Islands, which Argentina had invaded a few days earlier and claimed as its own as Las Islas Mavinas – not Falkland Islands.
The Brits drove Argentina’s military junta to the peace table within a few months of fighting. The embarassing loss also drove the junta from office.
Now Argentina’s government is making noise about the windswept islands in the middle of almost nowhere, even threatening to invade them again. Most of Latin America is siding with Argentina, calling the UK’s position there since 1833 an occupation.
At a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders in Colombia over the weekend, the U.S. and Canada declined to join a declaration supporting Argentina’s rights to the islands.
The Planes of Argentina Are Called Pampas
Argentina is hoping to revive its defense manufacturing industry with the production of Pampa combat and training aircraft. According to UPI via Defense Industry Daily, Buenos Aires was inspired by Brazil’s resurgent arms industry.
For a start, production will be for the demands of the Argentine Air Force and Navy but analysts say government planners are looking to enter the export market.
Fadea, the government-controlled aircraft factory in Cordoba plans to build 100 Pampa II in association with German aerospace company Grob Aircraft AG, according to press reports. Grob Aircraft won a contract last year to build turbo prop-powered trainers for the Indonesian Air Force.
In addition to yanking the British Lion’s tail over the Falklands/Malvinas, Argentina is picking a fight with Spain over a huge energy company. The Argentine company, YPF, was privatized and sold to Spain’s Repsol in the 1990s. But Argentine President Cristina Fernandez decreed the seizure of Repsol’s 51 percent stake in the company, claiming that Argentina needed to reclaim sovereignty of its natural resources.
The move outraged the Spanish government, which vowed retaliation — both legal and economic, Reuters reported. Fernandez’s decision cheered voters who have grown disenchanted with her government in recent months. It also spooked international investors, according to the Associated Press.
Fernandez had been dropping in popularity polls before the saber-rattling and nationalization tactics, which reminds us of the moves taken by the military junta in 1982 when its popularity was waning. Stay tuned.