Britons have been warned to stay off the streets of Buenos Aires today as thousands are expected to mass for Argentina’s biggest anti-British protests for years.
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Controversy over plans to drill for oil in the waters surrounding the islands have stoked hostility to levels not seen for more than 25 years.Demonstrators will march on the British Embassy in the capital to mark the April 2 anniversary of Argentina’s brief occupation of the Falklands Islands during 1982.

This year’s memorial has been given extra impetus because of recent oil exploration off the islands’ coastline by British companies, reviving Argentina’s historic claim to what it calls the Malvinas.

The march has been organised by the Civil Association of Malvinas Combatants, a veterans’ group, and has the backing of several trade unions.

Marches in previous years have rallied only a few hundred people but organisers are predicting many thousands will take to the streets to show their anger over the British exploration.

Organisers are demanding the complete block of the oil platform Ocean Guardian, operated by the UK’s Desire Petroleum. They are also calling for a boycott of British companies in Argentina. Two separate demonstrations will set off from different areas of Buenos Aires before marching towards the British Embassy in the city centre.

A British Embassy spokesman would not comment about specific events organised for today, but warned British nationals to stay away from all marches.

Javier Baliani, 48, a former infantry soldier, called Britain an “historic enemy” of Argentina.

Sitting next to a flag proclaiming “The Malvinas are Argentine” he said: “Recent events don’t surprise me. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the British who continue to exploit everything. They do what they want.”

Earlier this week, Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, talked of an endless fight to win back sovereignty of the Falklands.

The president, who will attend a memorial in Ushuaia, southern Argentina, today, said: “The battle is going to be eternal but is not going to be like in the past, with force.

“We’re going to put up a cultural, political and diplomatic fight on all fronts and in all forums in defence of our heritage, but also the management of our resources.”

Today’s protests are scheduled despite Desire Petroleum’s announcement earlier this week that its initial oil explorations had revealed poor quality petroleum.

Desire is one of four British companies licensed to drill for oil. It is expected to give more detailed information on its findings by the end of the week.

Tensions between Britain and Argentina have reached new heights in recent months because of the exploration.

Argentina secured the backing of other South American countries recently over their Falklands claim and has also asked the United Nations to call Britain to talks.

Britain has insisted it will never discuss sovereignty of the Falklands but is prepared to hold talks on oil exploration.