Argentina ‘will seek to punish’ firms that drill for Falklands oil

New Malvinas secretary says Buenos Aires will defend its claim to islands and surrounding waters in international courts

Argentina will seek legal punishment, including prison sentences, for anyone who drills for oil in the Falklands and the surrounding waters it claims as its territories, the country’s newly created Malvinas secretary has told the Guardian.

In his first interview with the international media since taking the post on Monday, Daniel Filmus also warned that companies involved in exploration of the disputed areas will be disqualified from potentially more lucrative work in Vaca Muerta (the giant shale oil deposit in Argentina’s Patagonia region) and offshore areas.

“We will go to the international courts. It must be known that Argentina will defend its claim,” Filmus told the Guardian at his office in the ministry of foreign affairs. “Whoever doesn’t obtain authorisation will not only face administrative consequences but will also face prison sentences.”

The tough statement emphasises the government’s determination to enforce a recently passed law bringing in fines of up to $1.5bn and prison sentences of up to 15 years for companies and executives who explore for oil on the Falklands seabed without permission from Buenos Aires.

But Argentina will continue to refuse to talk to the islands’ inhabitants, who voted overwhelmingly last year to remain under UK rule. Filmus said they do not have the right to proclaim their islands British. “There are 250,000 British descendants in Argentina, but they don’t claim the land they stand on is British,” he said.

Argentina’s strategy is thought unlikely to change under Filmus, who is a close ally of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and answers to the foreign minister, Héctor Timerman. The new appointee comes to the job after four years as president of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, where the Falklands was a permanent issue. The former education minister belongs to a generation that witnessed how the country’s 1976-83 dictatorship made some 30,000 of its own citizens “disappear” in death camps before losing power as a result of its fruitless attempt to wrest the islands from British control.

Full article: Argentina ‘will seek to punish’ firms that drill for Falklands oil (The Guardian)

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