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Argentina omits Falkland Islands from map; online uproar swiftly follows

Social Development Ministry apologizes for “mistake” that slipped into its New Year greeting

Argentina’s claim over the Falkland Islands – or Islas Malvinas, as they are known in Spanish – is a sensitive issue in the South American nation. The Social Development Ministry was recently reminded of this fact after it issued a New Year’s greeting on Twitter.

The controversial map of Argentina minus the Falkland Islands.
The controversial map of Argentina minus the Falkland Islands. Twitter

The problem did not lie with the message itself, which read: “May the year 2017 find us together, building a country that is more inclusive and with more equal opportunities for all.” But rather with the map that came with it.

The image showed a map of Argentina against a blue background, but Antarctica and the Falkland Islands were missing. Users of social media exploded with anger, particularly ex-combatants of the 1982 Falklands War.

The ministry has since apologized and blamed the omission on “a mistake by the design department.”

The oversight could not have come at a worse date. January 3 marks the 184th anniversary of the British occupation of the archipelago

The map is still available on the ministry’s official Twitter account, as well as Minister Carolina Stanley’s account. It was not Stanley who apologized, but the people in charge of running the ministry’s official account.

But the criticism has continued to rain down.

Alicia Castro, an ambassador to the UK under the administration of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had harsh words for Stanley, who is one of the star ministers in the government of the country’s current president, Mauricio Macri.

“She is not a schoolteacher who made a mistake with a map. She is putting our territorial claim at risk with an incomplete map,” she told the local media. “Can anyone imagine a minister from Great Britain not putting Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland into the UK? He would not last another second.”

Goose Green, the third largest settlement in the Falkland Islands.
Goose Green, the third largest settlement in the Falkland Islands. EFE

The oversight could not have come at a worse date. January 3 marks the 184th anniversary of the British occupation of the archipelago, and a public event is planned at Plaza de Mayo, where war veterans and nationalist groups typically converge each year.

On the political front, the situation is not the best either. In September, Argentina and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for commercial flights to the islands from the continent, and opening the door to hydrocarbon exploration in the area.

But Elisa Carrió, a congresswoman and former presidential candidate, said that the deal to improve the situation of islanders is in violation of sovereignty claims, and threatened to launch political trials against any high-ranking officials who sign such treaties without consulting with Congress first.

English version by Susana Urra.

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