- Title: ARGENTINA: Seized naval ship gets jubilant homecoming
- Date: 10th January 2013
- Summary: MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA (JANUARY 09, 2013) (REUTERS) STUNT PLANES SIGN IN SPANISH READING, 'SOVEREIGNTY + DIGNITY = CRISTINA ARGENTINE PRESIDENT CRISTINA FERNANDEZ AT PODIUM, WAVING TO CROWD
- Embargoed: 25th January 2013 12:00
- Location: Argentina
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Conflict,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABK61HARS3T7SQ01MIB29ZONIQ
- Story Text: An Argentine navy ship was given a triumphant homecoming on Wednesday (January 9) three months after it was seized in Ghana on behalf of a hedge fund suing over defaulted government bonds.
The ARA Libertad, a tall sailing ship used as a training vessel, was detained in the West African nation on October 2 due to a court order obtained by NML Capital Ltd as it fights to get full repayment for the bonds in the courts.
Argentina's government, which calls funds like NML "vultures," asked a U.N. maritime court to intervene and the Hamburg-based tribunal ordered the ship's release last month.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez welcomed the ship and its crew back to Argentine shores and hailed the Libertad's return as a triumph of sovereignty and likening it to the ongoing dispute Argentina faces with Britain over the Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as the Islas Malvinas.
"Today more than ever, 'yes to the homeland, no to colonialism', represents a particular moment in history where Argentina once again suffers the attacks of vulture funds and others that threaten us from 12 or 14,000 kilometres (7,500 or 8,700 miles) away to come and militarize or invade our Malvinas Islands. We tell them from here, from Argentina with all our pride and conviction, how a country should defend its rights because today we have in front of us a real history lesson that we gained through tenacity and conviction," Fernandez told crowds of supporters and vacationers in the seaside town of Mar del Plata.
The detention of the Libertad during a tour of Africa was a blow for Argentina's efforts to put the 2002 debt crisis behind it and drew a furious response from left-leaning president.
"Those vulture funds that tried to take the Libertad, it was the 28th seizure we've had and they are all the result of the global crisis and what at one point I've defined as 'anarcho-capitalism'," she added.
Plumes of white and sky blue smoke - representing the colours of the national flag, and a celebratory fly-past greeted the ship as it pulled into harbour.
Latin America's third-biggest economy has yet to return to global credit markets 11 years since staging the biggest sovereign debt default in history and legal wrangling with creditors continues.
A U.S. appeals court will start hearing oral arguments next month in a case that could eventually force Argentina to pay bondholders who rejected two debt restructurings in 2005 and 2010 to battle for full payment in the courts.
In order to avoid the risk of having the presidential plane seized by holdout creditors, Fernandez has hired a private aircraft for a four-nation tour of Asia and the Middle East at a cost of $880,000, the government said this week.
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