KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country’s support of an ALBA resolution to ban ships with the Falklands Islands flag from entering its ports is “symbolic,” according to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who said that such ships do not sail to this country.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines was among the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) member nations that signed in Venezuela last weekend a declaration to “Support the decision by the countries of the region to ban ships with the colonial flag imposed on the Malvinas from entering their ports.”
The Falkland Islands, or Islas Malvinas in Spanish, located in the South Atlantic Ocean 250 nautical miles east of the coast of mainland South America, are a self-governing British Overseas Territory, with the United Kingdom responsible for its defence and foreign affairs.
The U.K. asserted its claim to the islands by establishing a naval garrison there in 1833. Argentina invaded the islands on April 2, 1982. The British responded with an expeditionary force and after fierce fighting, Argentina surrendered on June 14, 1982 but still claim the islands as part of its territory.
Gonsalves said Tuesday that the support given to Argentina at the last ALBA summit was not new.
It merely added on paragraph to a resolution adopted in December by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – all the nations in the Americas except the United States and Canada, he said.
CELAC last December said it was giving “support for the cause of the Argentinians in principle but more particularly the request was being made for the issue to be resolved within the context of the discussion taking place on sovereignty of these islands through the United Nations mechanisms,” according to Gonsalves.
“And that is basically what is restated in this declaration, which speaks to peaceful and a definite solution to the dispute through the U.N. system, the OAS (Organisation of American States) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a resolution in the General Assembly is referred to,” Gonsalves told journalist.
“The real addition was the paragraph that says ‘Support the decision by the countries of the region to ban ships with the colonial flag imposed on the Malvinas from entering their ports’,” he said.
Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina had previously issued a statement on not having ships with the Falklands flag coming into their ports,” Gonsalves noted.
“It is largely a symbolic gesture. And when this declaration says support the declaration made by those countries … we don’t have ships from the Falklands coming to St. Vincent,” he added.
“So, when I saw on a news headline somewhere on the Net that ALBA countries, including those from the OECS ban ships from the Falklands coming to their port, that is not what it said. You are giving support to the decision, which was taken to those countries. No ships come to St. Vincent from the Falklands so there is no question of a ban. So, I just wanted to put clarity to that issue,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security and Sea Ports here.
Asked how this country would respond should a ship from the Falklands sail to one of its ports, Gonsalves said: “We have British ships which come here and the British ships they will be able to come here.”
However, the Falklands Flag and that of the United Kingdom are two separate and distinct flags.