U.K., Argentina fight over Falklands

Bill Radke Feb 18, 2010
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U.K., Argentina fight over Falklands

Bill Radke Feb 18, 2010
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: We may be seeing a new battle in an old war. This week, Argentina’s president declared that ships need a license from her country to travel from their to the Malvinas Islands, otherwise known as the Falklands. Argentina and the U.K. both claim sovereignty over the islands — they fought an undeclared war over them in the 80s. This time, the skirmish has a lot to do with money. Here to fill us in is reporter Daniel Schweimler in Buenos Aires. Thank you for joining us.

Daniel Schweimler: As you say, the latest skirmish in a long, long battle. This one stretching back to the 1830s, when the British forces took over the Falkand Islands and the Argentians have been claiming them ever since.

Radke: Why is this conflict flaring up again now?

Schweimler: This one specifically because British companies are exploring for oil in the region of the Falkland Islands. Initial exploration has suggested that something like 60 billion barrels of crude oil may be found in the area. If there does turn out that there’s a lot of oil in that area, then those islanders will become incredibly wealthy, and obviously it will accrue massive profits for the British companies as well.

Radke: So how are these British oil companies responding to Argentina’s declaration this week?

Schweimler: Well for them, it’s going to be an enormous inconvenience. It’s going to take a lot longer for their supplies to get to the islands and to the rigs. It’s also going to make it much more difficult for them to get, if they do find oil, to get that away from the islands.

Radke: So there are ways to get to and from the Falklands without going through Argentine waters?

Schweimler: There are, but it certainly means taking to long way round. It would be far more convenient for them to go to Argentinian ports. We’ve already had one incident where a ship in the last couple of weeks went to Argentina to pick up steel tubes used in oil exploration from an Argentine company. The Argentine authorities are refusing to let that ship leave port.

Radke: So Daniel, hundreds of people died in this conflict in the early 80s. What does it look like the odds are of some kind of military confrontation again?

Schweimler: Well it’s the very raw nerve that 1982 war hit in Argentina. But Argentina in that time, in 1982, was governed by a brutal, military government. It now has a civilian, democratically-elected government. And as far as the government here is concerned, it’s not going to escalate into a military conflict.

Radke: We’ll see how much more cute this confrontation gets if oil is actually discovered there in those islands. Daniel Schweimler — thank you very much for joining us.

Schweimler: Thank you.

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