Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina: Uproar as new year message omits disputed Falklands

Tweet from Argentina's Ministry of Social Development that excluded the Falklands from the country's map Image copyright Twitter - @MDSNacion
Image caption The message, posted on Twitter, read "may 2017 find us united and in peace. Happy new year!"

A new year's message by Argentina's social development ministry has caused uproar after it excluded the disputed Falkland Islands from the country's map.

Former combatants and social media users said the message was offensive to those who died in the 1982 war.

The ministry has apologised, saying it was a mistake by the design team.

The islands are a British territory in the Atlantic claimed by Argentina, where they are known as the Malvinas.

President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December 2015, promised a "new kind of relationship" with the UK, a step seen as aimed at boosting Argentina's flagging economy.

Since then, the countries have agreed to work toward removing measures restricting the oil and gas industry, shipping and fishing around the islands. But the issue of sovereignty has not been discussed.

Image copyright Twitter - @MDSNacion
Image caption The ministry said on Twitter: "Our apologies for the mistake of the graphics department in the new year's message"

Saul Perez, who fought in the war, expressed his "uneasiness," and told C5N news channel "it was not a mistake."

He said the omission was part of a campaign by Mr Macri's government to "place a priority on bilateral trade" over the sovereignty claim.

Alicia Castro, who served as Argentina's ambassador to the UK under former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, called the absence of the islands "inadmissible."

"I'm upset to see this mutilated map. Usually the British do this, I haven't seen any government doing it," she told Argentina's Radio 10, according to La Nacion newspaper (in Spanish).

Some users on social media accused the government of betraying the claim to sovereignty.

Image copyright Twitter - @espiando_te
Image caption "You can make them disappear from the maps, but never from the heart of Argentineans. They were, are and will be ours"
Image copyright Twitter - @Lucas_allbo
Image caption "Have you already given away the Malvinas?"

The Falklands, with some 3,000 residents, are a UK overseas territory located about 530km (330 miles) off Argentina's coast. In 2013 the islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain a UK territory.

The ten-week war in 1982 saw 649 Argentine and 255 British service personnel killed.

The conflict saw a taskforce recapture the British overseas territory in the South Atlantic after an invasion by Argentina.

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