OAS backs Argentina’s Falkland / Malvinas claim; Argentina’s Supreme Court revokes a freeze on assets of Chevron; Argentina nationalises Brazilian rail-routes
OAS backs Argentina’s Malvinas claim against the UK
On 4 June, the organisation of American states (OAS) adopted a declaration that calls for negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the ‘sovereignty’ of the Falkland / Malvinas Islands. The resolution was passed as part of the 43rd annual OAS assembly in Guatemala. All Latin American countries expressed their full support for the measure. Canada was against the OAS final declaration, while the U.S. did not take a position on the matter.
All Latin American countries called on the United Kingdom to resume a dialogue to resolve the dispute over the islands. Since the British fended off an Argentine invasion on the island in 1982, the government continues to assert control over the Falklands and grants islanders British citizenship. Britain has resisted international calls for the two nations to negotiate the issue.
Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hector Timmerman, explained that this on-going issue was not about self-determination but about a territorial dispute. The Argentine official refused to recognize the results of a 2012 referendum that clearly showed that Falklanders wanted to remain British. From his viewpoint, this referendum was a way for Britain to show to the rest of the world that a ‘militarily-occupied territory’ was naturally British. On the matter, the Argentine government once again recalled Argentina’s ‘inalienable right’ to the Falkland/Malvinas Islands which suffer from an ‘unacceptable and anachronic colonial situation.’ The OAS’s declaration pressures the UK to restart negotiations over sovereignty of the Islands.
The government of the Falkland/Malvinas Islands expressed disappointment with the OAS declaration while various British politicians were disappointed by the U.S.’s lack of clear position on the matter.
Argentina’s Supreme Court revokes a freeze on Chevron’s assets
Argentina’s Supreme Court revoked on Tuesday, 4 June a US$19bn freeze on the assets of the Argentine subsidiary of the American oil company, Chevron Corporation.
The case stems from an ongoing 20-year-old dispute over environmental contamination in Ecuador. An Ecuadorean court convicted the American oil giant Texaco for contaminating parts of Ecuador’s Amazon region. In 2001, Chevron bought Texaco but denies the accusations, claiming there are the result of fraud on the behalf of the Ecuadorian government. As Chevron does not have many assets in Ecuador, the plaintiffs have been trying to freeze the company’s assets in other countries. They are pursuing Chevron in Brazil, Colombia and Canada to force a settlement on the case. The Argentine freeze of Chevron’s assets resulted from this context.
In a six-to-one vote, Argentina’s high court revoked the freeze, arguing that the Argentine subsidiary is a distinctive legal entity which did not participate directly in the contamination in Ecuador. This ruling will ease Chevron’s investments plans in Argentina, which is willing to further develop the country’s shale oil and gas.
Argentina nationalises two Brazilian rail-routes
Almost a year after the expropriation of 51% of Spanish-controlled energy company, YPF, Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández has expropriated the Brazilian rail group America Latina Logística (ALL). The government has nationalised the company’s railway routes as well.
ALL declared it had not been notified that its concessions had been nationalised. According to a news release by the government, the railway was nationalized because of ALL’s ‘repeated failure to comply’ with regulations. The government also claimed it wanted to reduce logistics’ costs to be increasingly competitive and efficient. On the other side, ALL said it has been looking for buyers acknowledging the mounting difficulties of doing business in Argentina. Indeed, after the YPF expropriation, many investors are reluctant to pour their money into Argentina.