Argentina’s government has announced it is cancelling a controversial agreement it signed with Britain on the issue of the Falkland Islands.
The decision comes after a Declassified UK story in April last year, written by Matt Kennard, revealed allegations that the Argentine minister who negotiated the deal was drunk at the time.
The accusations were contained in the memoirs of Sir Alan Duncan, Britain’s foreign minister for Americas from 2016-19.
The Declassified story went viral in Argentina, hitting the front-pages across the country and leading news bulletins for a week.
The government in Buenos Aires eventually ordered an investigation into how the agreement had been negotiated.
Nearly a year later, Argentina’s foreign minister, Santiago Cafiero, took to twitter last week to announce that he had told his British counterpart James Cleverly about the unilateral cancellation of the agreement at a meeting at the G20 foreign ministers summit in New Delhi.
Cleverly’s response was not diplomatic. He quote-tweeted his Argentine counterpart, adding: “The Falkland Islands are British. Islanders have the right to decide their own future – they have chosen to remain a self-governing UK Overseas Territory.”
The 2016 agreement was always controversial in Argentina. Negotiated by its deputy foreign minister, Carlos Foradori, it agreed to “remove all obstacles” to developing oil deposits around the Falkland Islands—and to add “further air links” from third countries.
His British counterpart, Alan Duncan, later wrote that Foradori “shook hands” on the deal at 2am in the wine cellar of the British embassy in Buenos Aires – and was “so pissed” he’d forgotten what he had agreed to when he woke up the morning after.
When Declassified published these revelations last year, the resulting furore was a window into how polarised Argentina’s media and politics is.
The main left-wing newspaper Pagina 12 ran a front-page showing Foradori with General Galteiri, the Argentine dictator who invaded the Falklands in 1982. Between them is a big bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. “De un borracho a otro,” the headline reads (“From one drunk to another”).
The country’s largest distribution paper Clarin, however, wrote that the story was “a K manoeuvre” i.e. a fake scandal generated by supporters of Cristina Kirchner, the current vice president. They provided no evidence and did not mention that it was a British outlet, Declassified, which first broke the story.
But even supporters of the move have remarked on the interesting timing of the decision by the government of Alberto Fernández, who has been in office since 2019. The general election in Argentina is set for October this year.
“We rejected the Foradori-Duncan agreement when it was signed in 2016 because it was an expression of Britain’s imperial ambition to maintain control over the natural resources in the South Atlantic,” Alicia Castro, Argentine ambassador to Britain from 2011-15, told us.
“Declassified UK then provided the crucial information that deputy minister Foradori had negotiated it completely drunk. Important though this proved to be, the government of Alberto Fernández took three years too long to scrap an agreement clearly harmful to the interests of Argentina.”