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Spain protests Argentine harassment of fishing boat in the Falklands

The Americas Post - This Spanish fishing boat outran the Argentine Coast Guard

This weekend a unique diplomatic standoff took place when a Spanish ship, authorized by Britain to fish in the Falkland Islands, was pursued by Argentine authorities but successfully fled to Uruguayan waters.

The incident began when the Spanish ship Villa Nores, having departed for the Falklands from Montevideo the previous Saturday, was challenged by the Argentine Coast Guard.  The captain of the Argentine ship GC24 Mantillas ordered the Spanish ship to stop and present documents authorizing final destination and right of passage, in accordance with an Argentine law passed last year requiring that nation’s permission to go to the Falklands.  Instead of stopping, the Spanish captain turned and ran for Uruguayan territorial waters, escorted by a Uruguayan naval aircraft.

Uruguayan naval commander Alberto Carames said that President Jose Mujica and Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez monitored the situation throughout.  The previous week, President Mujica had been caught up in a diplomatic tiff when, in solidarity with Argentina, Uruguay denied entry to a ship flying the flag of the Falkland Islands.

The ambassador of Spain in Uruguay, Aurora Diaz Rato, has lodged a protest in Montevideo against the Argentine action, claiming freedom of navigation in international waters.  It remains to be seen how the four countries involved will resolve this latest twist in the ongoing conflict which now spans many decades.