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Chavez warns Queen over Falklands rivalry

Chavez warns Queen over Falklands rivalry

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has taken aim at Queen Elizabeth as a new row over Britain's ownership of the Falkland Islands gathers pace, MiNDFOOD reports.

Chavez warns Queen over Falklands rivalry

Old passions about who owns the remote South Atlantic archipelago have been reignited after a British-owned oil rig started drilling in waters nearby.

Argentina has got the backing of 32 Central and South American countries in its territorial claim for what it calls the Malvinas.

The issue last came to a head in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falklands, only to be thrown out by British troops in a bloody war that defined the first term of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

But now billions of dollars could be at stake and the possible returns from the huge oil fields are too big for the Argentinian government to ignore.

Argentina has imposed new shipping controls on British vessels heading for the Falklands and its regional allies have issued a statement recognising Argentina’s sovereign right to any Falklands oil.

None of Argentina’s new allies is more vocal and provocative than Mr Chavez.

“Queen of England, I’m talking to you. Queen of England, the empires are over. Have you not realised? Give the Falklands back to the Argentines, Queen of England,” Mr Chavez said.

The Queen is keeping her own counsel, but in case she had not got the message, there was more.

“The English continue to threaten Argentina. Things have changed, Mrs Queen. It is no longer 1982,” Mr Chavez said.

“Be sure that the Argentine homeland is not alone, because it is also our homeland.”

The British government is not making a big fuss about the comments. Their simple and repeated claim is that as the drilling is in British waters, they are not violating international law.

UK defence minister Bill Rammell said Britain would take whatever steps necessary to protect the islands and that Argentina was aware of that.

The Argentinian government has made it clear it will not use force, but may just make life difficult enough that the British cut some sort of deal.

2010 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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