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Argentina Threatens Cunard for Flying British Flag

With tensions still high in Argentina over the Falkland Islands, Argentina uses any excuse to flex its muscles, today they are doing so by ordering Cunard cruise liner to take down its British flag when it docked in Buenos Aires. The Foreign Office accused Argentina of “unacceptable harassment and intimidation” over the incident.

The Queen Victoria which was docked in Buenos Aires was ordered to take down its British Flag when it docked, with the captain of the vessel being told he would face a large fine if they did not comply. The flag is the flag of Britain’s merchant fleet and when it is in port it is known as the “red duster”

One of the passengers aboard the luxury cruise ship was Falklands War veteran Admiral Lord West of Spithead. He described the actions of Argentina as “an insult to the nation” to ban all British non-military ships from flying the red ensign whilst in port.

The Admiral said: “After we’d gone round Cape Horn I was at dinner with the captain, and the captain said to me that when they were in Buenos Aires that the ship had basically been threatened with a very punitive fine – about 10,000 US dollars – and also told there would be ‘trouble’ in inverted commas – not specified – if he didn’t take down the red ensign which the ship flies,”

According to rules set by Argentina, the law only applies to ships which have travelled to the disputed Falkland’s Islands. However the Queen Victoria, did not so shouldn’t have fallen under these rules. This latest event is a number of tit for tat, coming from the South American country who keep claiming that the Falkland Islands are rightly theirs, despite losing the Falklands War in the 1980’s and the islanders themselves voting to stay under British Sovereignty.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We condemn any attempts by the Argentine authorities to unnecessarily interfere with the legitimate transit of UK-flagged vessels. This appears to be another example of unacceptable harassment and intimidation. We robustly defend UK interests against any attempts by the Government of Argentina to disrupt any lawful commercial activity. We are urgently discussing the matter with Carnival UK (Cunard’s parent company) and will raise this with the Argentine authorities.”

Image courtesy of John Haslam

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