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Falklands ticking time bomb: UK sent dire warning as political plot erupts in Argentina

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Mrs Kirchner served two terms as the country’s President, from 2007 to 2011, and 2011 to 2015, having succeeded her husband, Nestor Kirchner, Argentina’s President from 2003 to 2007. A Peronist with a left-wing agenda, Mrs Kirchner has made no secret of her belief that the Falkland Islands, which Argentina refers to as the Malvinas, rightfully belong to her country. In 2012 she proclaimed: “I am a Malvinist president.

“It is an injustice that a colonialist enclave still exists a few hundred kilometres from our shores in the 21st century.

“It is absurd to pretend dominion 8,000 miles overseas.”

A source with knowledge of the situation told it was “entirely reasonable” to conclude that Mrs Kirchner was probably more powerful than Mr Fernandez, who was elected, with her at his side, last year.

The source added: “It’s true that she and her branch of the Peronist movement are particularly hard line over the Falklands issue too.

“The governor of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Gustavo Melella, is also a ‘Kirchnerist’, and very hard line over the Falklands – and in Tierra Del Fuego they claim the absurdity that the Falklands are part of their province.”

Considering the reasons why Mrs Kirchner, whose husband died in 2010, and whose son Maximo is also a member of the Argentinian Congress, remained so influential, the source explained: “Unlike most vice-presidents she brought a huge number of votes to their joint campaign in the presidential elections.

“So she was always going to be influential.

“And it’s no secret that she would like to be president again – and she will be if Fernandez gives up.

“But I think people are surprised at the way she has already become so powerful.”

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By contrast, Mr Fernandez is under pressure, with his slump in the polls fuelled by a stagnant economy made worse by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The source said: “In the meantime Vice-president Cristina de Kirchner is calling many of the shots – but keeping a low profile.

“So Fernandez gets the blame rather than her. There are cartoons of him as her pet dog.

“If Alberto Fernandez gives up, Cristina de Kirchner will become president – and there is a rumour that this might have been planned from the moment when those two agreed to run together in the presidential election year.

“Then the Kirchners will be in charge again. That would mean extreme left-wing policies, endless problems in Argentina – and heavy pressure on the Falklands.”

Mr Fernandez’s election has resulted in a renewed sovereignty push from Argentina in respect of the remote archipelago, which lies 400 miles off the South American country’s eastern coast.

In July, Argentina’s Senate backed two bills sent by President Alberto Fernandez reasserting its claim to the British overseas territory in a move widely regarded as testing the UK’s resolve.

The first bill created a body entitled the National Council of Affairs Relating to the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces.

The second aimed to establish definitive outer limits of the continental shelf, beyond 200 miles, a precursor to likely oil exploration projects.

Daniel Filmus, Argentina’s Secretary of Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, himself a close ally of Mrs Kirchner, and an admirer of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said: “It is of enormous importance that all parliamentary blocks agree that it is necessary that the Malvinas issue becomes a true State policy.”

The Falkland Islands are a British overseas territory.

Argentina launched an invasion in 1982, prompting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sending a task force to the South Atlantic, where they fought a successful 10-week war of liberation.

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