An open letter from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to British Prime Minister David Cameron printed today in The Guardian once again invited the British government to open a dialogue regarding the sovereignty of the contested Falklands/Malvinas Islands. The letter, which appeared as an advertisement in the International section, was reprinted in various British and Argentine newspapers.
The publication of the letter was timed to coincide with the 180th anniversary of the landing on the islands by the British Royal Navy. Addressed to Prime Minister Cameron, it begins “One hundred and eighty years ago on this same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km (8,700 miles) away from London.”
It continues “Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity.” Fernández then asks the British government to respect the 1965 United Nations General Assembly resolution which calls for a diplomatic resolution to the issue.
“In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations”, the letter concludes.
The British Foreign Office was quick to respond via Twitter, stating “There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The Islanders can’t just be written out of history”. They continue, “The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so.”
Spokespeople from the Falklands/Malvinas have formerly stated that they do not consider themselves a colony, but rather a willing member of the United Kingdom. A referendum will be held on the islands in March to decide whether the inhabitants wish to continue being a British territory, or change their status.
British media have been quick to criticise the content of the letter, accusing President Fernández of historical inaccuracies regarding Argentina’s claim to the Islands and the Argentine presence there in 1833 at the time of the British occupation.
In a column that published in The Telegraph, Nile Gardiner, a former advisor to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, described the letter as “a pathetic act of desperation that simply underlines the futility of the cause”.
Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, the National Commission of ex-Combatants of the Malvinas will deliver their own letter to the British Embassy today, with the support of the Madres and Abuelas of the Plaza de Mayo, expressing their “concern before the fact that Great Britain does not respect the UN’s resolutions”.
Ernesto Alonso, head of the Commission, told Página/12 “We have always felt that it was a mistake on the part of the dictatorship to take back the islands militarily, it was a decision that placed the islands even further out of our grasp. Latin America is a peaceful region and all we are asking for is dialogue.”