Thursday, May 16, 2013

Berth Control: Denial of Docking Privleges in Ushuaia, Argentina

On page 6 in the March 12, 2012, issue of Newsweek magazine, the small item under the heading "NewsBeast: International" and subtitled, "Berth Control," reads as follows: "The rapidly capsizing relations between Argentina and Britain plumbed new depths when two British-flagged cruise liners were refused docking at the Argentine port city of Ushuaia. The behemoths had visited Port Stanley, in the disputed Falkland Islands, on their way to Argentina. Irate business owners in Ushuaia, denied an invasion of 3,250 free-spending vacationers, accused authorities of ‘economic suicide.’"

Having seen this note in Newsweek, I decided to Google this issue, and the Internet is full of responses. Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic contributing editor, in an online article, "Argentina turns away two cruise ships in Falkland Islands dispute," writes, "A spokeswoman for P&O Cruises said the official reason given for Adonia being denied entry to the port was ‘due to the ship having been in the Falkland Islands on Saturday.’ Adonia is on an 87-night round South American cruise."

"The port from which a ship has just departed is usually not a point of contention," writes Bryant, "But 30 years after the Falklands War [war was never declared; it is called a "conflict"], the dispute between Britain and Argentina over sovereignty of the islands is threatening to boil over again. To that end, the Argentine government has recently issued a decree that all ships traveling between Argentina and the Falklands now need its permission to do so."

"The antagonism works both ways," Bryant continues, "In January, Star Princess was refused entry to Port Stanley, ostensibly because it had a small outbreak of norovirus onboard, but suspicions arose that the ship was turned away because it was carrying some Argentine passengers."

In an online article (February 27, 2012), "Argentina turns away UK cruise ships," by James Meikle and Uki Goni in Buenos Aires, writing for The Guardian, add another dimension to this story. "The incidents came as Britain’s formal announcement of a huge marine protection area around South Georgia and the South Sandwhich Islands threatened to further ratchet up ill-feeling in Buenos Aires."

Meikle and Goni continue, "Arturo Puricelli, the Argentine defense minister, said in December when the plans first became clear that it was ‘nothing more and nothing less than an attempt under the cover of protecting the environment to usurp a larger area.’

And they mention, too, the Prince William situation: "His government [the Argentine government] also regards the deployment of Prince William to the Falklands with the 30th anniversary of the war approaching as provocative."

There is more, too: "The ships were turned away," these two writers claim, "by application of a Tierra del Fuego law passed six months ago which bans the docking of British miliary ships or ships involved in ‘the exploration or exploitation of natural resources’ in the South Atlantic area."

At the BBC News web site , it was stated, "Argentinian press reported the incident marked the first time the authorities had enforced a law passed last August that prohibited British ships or vessels partly belonging to British companies docking in Argentina."

How did all of this come about? Meikle and Goni seem to have at least one answer: "Tierra de Fuego governor Fabiana Rios is said to have applied a wide interpretation of the new law at the request of 1982 war veterans." At least we now have someone to blame!

In the same article, the concluding paragraph raises the same issue I raised (and will cite in the conclusion to this essay even though it is redundant), "‘If we mean to cause some damage to the British, we have actually damaged all those who would have worked with that ship today,’ complained Marcelo Lieti, head of the Ushuaia Tourism Chamber."

This is the entry I wrote in my notes on February 26, 2012: "As we cruise now for three days prior to reaching Valparaiso, I have only one more brief observation. By denying our ship and the Adonis entry into Argentina, the government has denied its merchants, vendors, and tour operators a significant amount of income. We think it may be a ‘tit for tat’ reaction to the fact that Prince William is now in the Falklands for helicopter training and the ‘strike’ by the container-ship personnel may have been a ruse to keep all these passengers from revolting!! We don’t know why the government made this decision, but it goes back 30 years to the conflict between Britain and Argentina in the Falklands in 1982. Argentina, to this day believes that the Falkland Islands (they call them the Malvinas) belong to them.

This is truly an example of hypocrisy. We traveled from Montevideo, Uruguay, across the Rio de la Plate River to Buneos Aires, Argentina, and had no trouble getting permission to enter or dock there—with a well-known, well-advertised, and well-traveled agenda of heading to the Falkland Islands as our next stop. Why deny Ushuaia its due economic gains while granting Buenos Aires theirs?

It’s too bad that the government can’t bifurcate this issue. That is, if they separate politics from economics, the situation can be easily defined and resolved. It is truly a political decision, but why deny your own people their rightful economic rewards?

The BBC News web site cited earlier reported: "The Foreign Office said it was very concerned to hear the two ships had been refused access to Ushuaia.

"A spokesman said: ‘There can be no justification for interference in free and legitimate commerce. British diplomats in Argentina are urgently seeking to clarify the circumstances surrounding this incident.’

"The FO's travel advice at present reads: ‘We are currently not advising against travel to Argentine ports, but strongly advise operators to check with local agents before traveling.’"

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Wikipedia has one of the best explanations and descriptions of the Falklands War at its website:

On June 14, 2012, the article headline reads, "Argentina President Renews Claim to Falkland Islands," and the article appears at The Guardian website:

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Copyright May, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

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