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Securing the Golden Comb: The Future of the Falklands/Malvinas

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The British flag and a bird fly over the Malvinas (Photo: eddybox43)

This April marks the 29th anniversary of the Falklands War (known as the Malvinas War in Argentina), which claimed the lives of 650 Argentines and 258 British soldiers. But beyond the battle is a territorial dispute that has raged for 178 years and shows no sign of disappearing. With lucrative fishing licenses, oil prospects, Antarctic ambitions, and a military base with 2,500 troops said to be defending a population of the same size, is the UK actually afraid of Argentine aggression or is it afraid of compromising on such a strategic and valuable holding?

“Two bald men fighting over a comb,” said Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges of the war between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands Islands. It’s a metaphor that became branded to what many believe to have been a senseless war between two deeply unpopular governments, both looking to win points at home, over a cluster of islands in the remote South Atlantic. UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s popularity was plummeting thanks to a series of neoliberal domestic policies, and with 30,000 disappearances to its name the Argentine military junta and its iron-fisted rule was losing any legitimacy it once had.

War was the perfect way for both countries to ratchet up nationalism and divert attention from unrest at home. Argentina sent its out-matched army to invade the islands in April 1982 and retreated ten weeks later with a new appreciation for Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, one of the most equipped in the world. End of story.

Yet the pointlessness of the actual war overshadows the true conflict. Beyond nationalist pride, what is the real fuss over these frigid islands? Upon closer look at what control of the Falklands actually means for the British today – between the sale of fishing licenses, oil exploitation, increased militarization, and access to the Antarctic – it turns out that the measly comb so many have mocked is made out of solid gold.

History and International Law

The conflict over the Falklands stretches far beyond the war in 1982 and involves an endless list of UN resolutions (issued and ignored), sovereignty claims, bilateral talks and unilateral actions.

Britain successfully colonized the islands in 1833, 26 years after two unsuccessful attempts to capture Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. At the time, a tiny gaucho population under the authority of Argentine colonel, Jose Maria Pinedo, inhabited the islands. The colonel was asked to remove the Argentine flag, replace it for a British one, and get lost. Without the numbers to mount any defense, he obeyed, and the islands have been under British control ever since.

Control of islands nearly 13,000km from the shores of the UK and 500km off the coast of Argentina didn’t rustle many international feathers until the 1950s and 60s, when decolonization movements around the world gave impetus to milestone UN resolutions like 1514 – passed in 1960 – that supported independence movements of colonized countries and peoples. The General Assembly then passed Resolution 2065 in 1965, which specifically acknowledged the conflict over the islands and called upon both sides to “proceed without delay” in negotiations and to refrain from taking unilateral decisions or actions. The resolution goes on to say that it “was prompted by the cherished aim of bringing an end everywhere to colonialism in all of its forms, one of which covers the case of the Falkland Islands.”

It was the first of 11 UN resolutions regarding the conflict, eight of them issued after the 1982 war and the most recent passed in 2010 by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. Each one restates the previous, with the acknowledgement of a colonial situation and a request for a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the dispute. Yet despite Argentina’s continued pleas for international law to be respected, they have done little to change the present situation of the islands.

Status Quo: Profit and Expansion

Fishing Boats (Photo: Luciano Osorio)

By ignoring Argentina and the international community and evading serious negotiations, the UK has been able to sustain a position of occupation and unilateral action throughout the years. The status quo has been good to Britain. For example, it has enjoyed over three decades of exclusive rights to the sale of fishing licenses in perhaps the richest waters in the world, as reported by the Food and Agricultural Organisation. When it unilaterally established maritime jurisdiction over the 200 nautical miles surrounding the islands in 1986, and set up the Falklands Islands Fishing Ordinance, it began selling fishing licenses to countries like Poland, Japan, and South Korea. According to a 1997 report in the ‘Maritime Briefing’ on the Falklands, after the ordinance was established, “license fees subsequently brought in several million pounds per year,” with the harvest of squid alone yielding £20.6m  in 1992.

Mediated negotiations have historically been shut down due to Britain’s refusal to discuss the issue of “sovereignty”. In fact, the only moment the UK entertained bilateral negotiations was in the 1990s, when Argentina’s neoliberal economic policies lifted restrictions on British imports. The countries signed a Joint Declaration and agreed to “umbrella sovereignty”, whereby no action taken by either government would be interpreted as supporting or rejecting the other’s claim of sovereignty. It was a passive and confounded agreement mostly designed to ease Argentine concerns rather than those of the British.

The Argentine government’s willingness to go along with it was referred to as its “policy of seduction”. Yet it was just unclear who was seducing whom. Though there were joint scientific studies of fish stock, the sale of licenses remained exclusively British. Though the UK allowed families of Argentine soldiers killed during the war to visit the islands, it unilaterally claimed maritime jurisdiction around the South Georgia and South Sandwich islands. And while both countries set up a joint commission in to oversee oil exploration in disputed waters, Britain continued its independent sale of numerous oil licenses.

Oil, Water and the Antarctic

Oil Platform (Photo: Stacy Lynn Baum)

As fish supplies dwindle, securing oil and fresh water reserves has become the main strategic role of the Falklands for Britain. Though scientists had long been suspected there were large oil reserves around the islands, exploration has only begun in the past few years. In February of 2010, British Desire Petroleum began drilling 100km from the capital of the Falklands, Port Stanley, for what may be 200 million barrels of oil worth an estimated £17bn. By May, British Rockhopper Exploration joined the frenzy, along with a host of other companies that have won large contracts for oilrig and equipment services.

Great oil and gas reserves also lie underneath the Antarctic, a continent Britain has also set its sights on. Thanks to its control of the Falklands, it has claimed over 660,000 square miles of Antarctic territory. In May of 2009, before the deadline for countries to make submissions to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, it submitted an additional claim of 386,000 miles of ocean off of its Antarctic holding. Many, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, condemned the UK in what is seen as an environmentally dangerous move to secure access to oil, water and other natural resources.

The Antarctic is also the continent that holds 70% of the world’s fresh water reserves, a resource becoming scarcer and more valuable each year. The Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 has thus far protected the continent’s environment from resource extraction and military activity. However, it neither affirms nor denies territorial claims currently held by seven countries. As access to fresh water becomes more critical, the treaty may become another ideal purported on paper but trampled in practice.

Military Manoeuvres

F3 Tornado of the Quick Reaction Alert Force based at Mount Pleasant Complex (MPC) in the Falkland Islands at dusk. (Photo: Harland Quarrington)

One of the most significant outcomes of the Falklands War was Britain’s construction of the Royal Air Force base called Mount Pleasant, established in 1985. It is complete with four Eurofighter Typhoon jets, transport aircrafts, helicopters, silos for large weapons storage, two runways capable of accommodating heavy aircraft, and last year the Navy deployed attack submarine HMS Sceptre to the area. Currently, more than 2,500 Army, Navy and RAF servicemen and personnel are stationed there.

Though by its own admission the likelihood of an Argentine military attack is slim to none, the military conducts regular exercises simulating invasion that involve heavy artillery fire upon targets off the coast. In October of last year, the base also conducted a series of missile tests that Britain called “routine”. Argentina, backed by Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, called the exercises and tests acts of aggression and lodged a formal complaint to the UN, stating: “A permanent member of the UN Security Council is behaving like something from the colonial past.”

Vice-president of the World Peace Council, Rina Bertaccini, has studied foreign military bases and activity in Latin America for over 30 years. To her, Britain’s military objective is clear: “To maintain military bases, control over maritime routes, and control over the natural assets of the region that they prey on at will.”

Additionally, in March 2010, 150 troops from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment arrived at Mount Pleasant to begin training for deployment to Afghanistan to join the other 9,500 British troops stationed there as part of NATO’s continued war. It is a reality that raises questions as to the extent the islands are being used, or could be used, for NATO purposes. Some, like Bertaccini, believe that the difference between the British base and a NATO base is a mere “subtlety”.

“What’s certain,” says Bertaccini, “is that you cannot install a military base with 2,500 troops to defend 2,500 inhabitants, it doesn’t make sense.”

Self-determination

But it is precisely the desires of those 2,500 inhabitants that the UK has used to justify its sovereign claim over the islands. In poll after poll, the people living on the Falklands declare their nationality as British and wish to remain under British authority. Invoking the UN Charter’s principle of self-determination, Britain has stated “there can be no negotiations on sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Falkland Islanders so wish.”

But applying the principal of “self-determination” becomes tricky when the population is made up of the same colonizing force that seized the islands. Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafael Bielsa said before the UN Committee on Decolonization in 2004: “Sustaining the idea the inhabitants of the islands have a right to self-determination would create a territorial dispute of which the country that has implanted them is part of. Meaning, the colonial power would confirm its own usurpation and implicate itself.” In a 2006 address to the same committee, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Taina said that the inhabitants are a “British population transplanted with the animus to establish a colony.”

While the assertion that the population of the Falklands is “implanted” is strong, census data collected by Britain reveals that it is largely true. In a 2006 report, Argentine congress member Daniel Oscar Gallo and a team of researchers presented a document that revealed that not only are military personnel often included in the count of 2,500 civilians living on the islands, but that just 40% of the population has lived on the islands for more than ten years, and only 42% of the population was born on the island.

Using UK census data, the document claims that “it is impossible to claim the application of principle of self-determination when in an analysis of the demographic of a period of ten years between two censuses, it turns out that more than 57% of the inhabitants over the age of ten have been implanted.”

Future of the Falklands

Malvinas War Monument from Ushaia (Photo: Esteban)

On this anniversary of the Falklands War, Argentines and Britons alike will mourn the death of soldiers and loved ones sent to battle what was ultimately a senseless war. To truly honour them along with the veterans who have suffered since, we would do well to fully understand the roots of this conflict, why the islands are so strategic and what the future may hold.

At a recent press conference discussing oil scarcity and new exploration, US president Barack Obama assured the North American people that the US government is working with partner nations and industry, and “taking steps to explore potential gas and oil resources off the mid- and south-Atlantic”. It is a statement as vague as it is alarming, as oil exploration and extraction moves forward in the Falklands and the region becomes more and more strategic to global superpowers.

 

Argentina may be able to diplomatically muscle its way toward negotiations as it has had consistent regional support from Mercosur, Unasur, and the Rio Group. But understanding what Britain stands to lose if it truly engaged in a discussion over Falklands makes it clear why the cries of a far inferior military power like Argentina go ignored. For now and as before, with so much at stake economically and strategically, might will be making right.

Francesca Fiorentini is a freelance journalist based in Buenos Aires. She is also an editor of Left Turn magazine and a regular contributor to WarTimes.org.

 

 

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25 Responses to “Securing the Golden Comb: The Future of the Falklands/Malvinas”

  1. Candice says:

    http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lj1mn0GdER1qgju3co1_500.jpg

    The way things looked in the neighborhood Saturday ..

  2. haroldo says:

    As many have said: if Argentina had not attacked and invaded, the situation in the Falklands would be different today.

  3. Michael Poynor says:

    I was born in Port Stanley in 1942, then lived in BA till 1954 … now live in the UK.
    Sadness is my overriding emotion about the whole Malvinas/Falklands debacle.
    Why have flights from Argentina to the M/F been stopped?
    Why can children from M/F no longer seek secondary education in Argentina?
    That single decision probably reduces the long term chances of any sort of understanding and raprochement more than any other.

  4. Michael Poynor says:

    At the time of the last Falklands census on 8 October 2006, the total civilian population of the islands
    was 2,955, excluding all military personnel and their families. That is the largest population the islands
    have ever had; the number of native-born Falkland Islanders was the largest since the 1940s (in 1946,
    90% were native-born), and it is still steadily increasing. The permanent residents on census day 2006
    were born in a total of 62 different countries including the Falklands; the places of birth of some of the
    largest groups of people in the islands were as follows:

    Falkland Islands 1,339
    Argentina 29 (of whom 2 were Argentine citizens)
    Britain 838
    Germany 28
    St Helena 394
    New Zealand 26
    Chile 161
    Russia 10
    Australia 36
    Uruguay 10

    Argentina maintains that the Falkland Islanders are “an introduced population”, but in fact for well over a
    century most of them have arrived in the islands by a short biological route – they were born there.

  5. haroldo says:

    …and “Two bald men” it remains.

  6. Richard says:

    Just to expand further on your paragraph about the colonization of the islands; it is more complicated in its precedence than the British booting out the Argentine Confederation in 1833 as shown by this graphic:
    Falklands_Permanence

    Also the Argentine Foreign minister´s objection to self-determination on the grounds that the current population is not aboriginal does not hold.

    As Michael Poynor pointed out above the vast majority of the current islands inhabitants were born there, historically there was never an aboriginal population.

    According to the UN´s stance on self determination the persons who can legitimately claim their determination in a territory are, “”peoples” being self-evident (from ethnicity, language, history, etc.), or defined by “ties of mutual affection or sentiment”, i.e. “loyalty”” -with no mention of aboriginal population (if this were the fact we would find the Mapuche filling the Casa Rosada).

    As it is, the Islanders have chosen to remain under British rule, legitimately.
    The Argentine fascination with these islands still confunds me; what exactly do they want them for (before the discovery of oil and implementation of Fishing Liscences)?

    Sorry Borges, but it really is a case of a bald hombre hassling a follicaly blessed chap for a comb.

  7. Ian says:

    If Argentina were really convinced of its legal entitlement to the islands then it would take its case to the International Court of Justice which is the only body entitled to adjudicate on the matter.

    The fact that it moans groans and whines to every international institution apart from the ICJ highlights its own lack of faith in its entitlement.

    Argentina should either put up or shut up.

  8. Lukas says:

    I’m Argentine, and I want the Falklanders to stay there forever. That’s their home and they are the real native people of the Falklands. The Falklanders are in the middle of this fight, this is stupid, because the United Nations don’t say anything, the United Nations should say something to stop this madness. End of discussion and the Falklanders live peacefully, this is what the United Nations should say, because those people are defenseless, because no one listens to them, and they are the only ones who are important. This is sickening and tiring and the United Nations should speak and put an end to this, the Falklanders keep their homes and everybody around the world respects them, that’s what the United Nations should say. If the United Nations don’t say anything then they are useless, because it seems that the United Nations are interested to continue with this fight, what are the reason for this? What about the people living there? When will the United Nations do something in favour of the falklanders? The only ones who are important are the Falklanders, all of us are nothing. Think only about the islanders.

  9. Redhoyt says:

    It is a pity that the article is inaccurate.

    1) British sovereignty goes back to 1765 (and arguably 1690), not 1833.

    2) The C-24 does not issue ‘Resolutions’. It passes ‘Draft Resolutions’ to the Fourth Committee for consideration of recommending them to the UN General Assembly. There has been no UN GA Resolution since 1988.

    3) Britain has not ‘set its sights’ on the Antartic. Our claim is merely frozen by the current Treaty and predates the claims of both Chile and Argentina.

    4) Missile tests that take place every 6 months are indeed ‘routine’. It makes sense to test the equipment. The Argentine protest to the UN fell on deaf ears as a result.

    5) Britain’s military objectives are quite clear – to protect British resources in British territories.

    6) It does make sense to position a large number of troops in an area where normal lines of supply are extended and the neighbours are aggressive and occassionally invasive (1833 & 1982)!

    7) The issue of ‘self determination’ is not ‘tricky’ when it has been clearly defined by the UN Charter. The islands were empty when the British arrived (we never count the French :-) Nobody to displace, colonisation was perfectly natural.

    Overall the innacuries defeat the article’s objective of a serious consideration of what is at stake. The author is correct in that much of the importance of a British presence in the south Atlantic is due to the Antartic. But she fails to recognise that Britain also has the very seperate islands of South Georgia and South Shetland, which provide the access to Antartica regardless of what the Falkland islander’s decide to do over independence. Argentina has never forwarded any coherent argument for its claim over South Georgia or the SSI’s.

    Geography as an argument under international law was eliminated by the Islas de Palmas case in 1928. Neither Argentina, nor any oter south cone country has any right to prevent Britain’s presence in the south Atlantic.

  10. J Roberts says:

    What an unfortunate piece. Light on facts and heavy on the usual nonsense. Argentina “Independent”? Hardly. More like the Casa Rosada’s lapdog, trotting out the usual Argentine government myth.

    Perhaps Francesca Fiorentini should spend a bit of time at the Archivo Nacional and learn a few facts, because it’s all there. As a matter of record, Argentina’s claim falls at the first hurdle.

  11. Francesca Fiorentini says:

    My article asserts nothing more than what is clear to anyone who pays attention to current UK foreign policy and does a bit of digging on the subject. My hope was to demystify this topic in an accessible way and move beyond what is an over-focus on the war and knee-jerk nationalism. I can see I’ve managed to stir them up.

    As David Cameron and Parliament re-affirmed last week, Britain has no intentions of negotiating with Argentina about the Falklands, a stance that continues to be in defiance of the UN General Assembly and Commission on Decolonisation resolutions that implore serious negotiations. One can believe that it has the interests of the thousand or so inhabitants in mind in this defiance. Or, as I have laid out here, one can understand the UK’s position as a need to secure the strategic ownership of the Falklands for military purposes and current and future resource control. I think anyone in their right mind understands that neither war nor any kind of displacement of Falklanders is the way forward. But as an American, familiar with modern imperial powers securing strategic resources when and where they see fit, I think it’s important, perhaps even critical, to call a spade a spade.

  12. J Roberts says:

    I’m sorry Francesca, but you have failed as a journalist. There is precious little evidence of “digging on the subject” as far as your article is concerned. And no balance whatsover. More like a blind regurgitation of the usual Argentine Government propaganda. Shame on you!

    David Cameron made it quite clear that there would be no negotiations regarding sovereignty so long as the Falkland Islanders did not want them. That is very different from what you imply above. Actually, it’s near 3000 inhabitants, not a “thousand or so”, and their interests are not some kind of excuse for what you call the UK’s “defiance”. The UK is obliged under international law to respect those interests, in fact it is obliged to respect more than that, it is obliged to respect the self determination of the Falkland Islanders. So is Argentina for that matter!

    You repeat the usual Argentine government lie that the UK is somehow in defiance of UN General Assembly and C24 resolutions. Which ones, and in what way? Have you actually read any of them to see for yourself what they say? If you had, and were a journalist of any worth, you might not be so biddable and so easily toe the Casa Rosada line.

    Anyway, how on earth do you expect the UK to “negotiate” with Argentina, when Argentina has already determined the outcome of those “negotiations” and enshrined it in her openly racist constitution?

  13. Florencia says:

    To all those who were born in the Islands , as an Argentine, I think you have rights as human beings … but you cannot escape the fact that you descend from people who occupied the Islands when Britain was a conolial power. The fact that you feel British instead of feeling “Islanders” with your own native culture speaks for itself. That’s why you are not considered “natives”, though you are “residents”.

  14. Jose says:

    Seriously I cannot believe some arguments backing the British position. This coming from people of a country that has invaded, taken by force natural resources, human resources destroying entire nations around the globe for hundreds of years including of course, legitimate argentine territories. I remind readers that very much earlier than the 1982 war, continental Argentina was invaded twice by their majesty troops in 1806-7. So who is the aggressor? Who was responsible of the blockade of the Buenos Aires port in 1850, just because the Argentine government didn’t accept the violation of its internal rivers sovereignty? You need to embrace the truth and reckon that all these episodes including the Islands invasion are part of a bigger scheme of imperial / colonial expansion going on for centuries.
    I am just trying to portrait the bigger picture of how the British Empire behave around the time were this problem starts. You might argue that this proves nothing, but I let this clear article speaks for that. As for the present and future there is the UN calling for negotiations, 11 times! Do you respect the UN or is just a joke to you? Hopefully, some day, these Islands will return to its rightful owner and any person of the rest of the world living on them (as our constitution stands -racist constitution, someone said, WTF!?), is invited to inhabit in peace, the argentine soil. The rest of you, British troops included, can go home, to your island, to your shrinking empire.

  15. Barbara says:

    “What is the fuss over these frigid islands?” I’ll tell you what is the fuss. As an American who has visited this beautiful set of islands, they are much closer to Argentina geographically than Britain and the ultimate sovereignty of them should revert to the original gaucho settlers.

  16. Colin says:

    Jose: Your argument sounds like a good one for Falkland to have sovereignty over itself, not that Argentina should have sovereignty over the territory. But you have yet to show any cause for Argentina owning the Islands, apart from some light immigration by some frontier Gauchos in the early 19th Century. So The Falklands should rule itself.

    Do you believe that the US has a right to Bermuda?

  17. Colin says:

    It’s also hard to see any argument that centers around ‘natives’ as a concept in this case.

    Argentina is a former Spanish colony that conquered territory owned by natives, using force. When will Argentine’s accept the fact that they are occupiers of a land? You can’t play moral superiority with some kind of ‘native’ card.

    If Argentines are the native occupiers of the Falklands, then they are not the native occupiers of Argentina.

  18. Carol says:

    Let`s imagine that I, an Argentinian, visit the Big Ben and realize nobody lives there, and decide to settle there as I find no former settlers occupying the place.

    Everyone would protest that the Big Ben belongs to England, as it is in British territory.

    To us, the British idea that “nobody was there so it did not belong to any country” is as ridiculous as the above mentioned. A country has the right to have empty territory for future generations, or to acquire resources.EVEN IF nobody had been living there (there were a few settlers) the islands already belonged to Argentina. The argument that “nobody lived there” has no meaning,

  19. Willem says:

    I find it so weird that Argentina, a huge country with lots of economic potential and unspoiled nature and a great soccer team (I’m really jealous), is still so focused on a few islands it temporarily possessed almost 200 years ago.

    Just turn Argentina into an economic powerhouse and maybe those islanders will one day ask to join Argentina.

  20. Lloyd S. says:

    I have to agree with Willem on this. The Argentine fixation on the Falklands looks pretty silly to outsiders. As for the economic revenues and potential cited in this article, I note that to date they have accrued to the Falklands Government not the British Government, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some substantial chunk is used to support the British military presence. The economic potential of the Antarctic claims is also a red herring, since under international treaty those resources are the common heritage of mankind and can’t be exploited by an individual country. Florencia’s subsequent assertion that the Islander aren’t natives because they feel British is just plain inaccurate. In fact, the Islanders do want to remain British subjects, but if you talk to the them, they are very proudly Falklanders (or Kelpers I seem to recall). They have a very distinct identity as natives of the Islands. And seeking to assimilate or expel them without their consent cannot be anything other than a violation of their right to self-determination.

    As of my visit in late 2009, the people I spoke to there were still pretty hostile to Argentina and bitter about the 1982 invasion. If Argentina wants to legitimately take possession of the Islands, it should agree to do so only with the Falklanders’ consent. In the meantime I suggest that rather than making life difficult for the Falklanders by restricting trade and travel, it do its best to woo them by freely allowing it, by encouraging cultural exchanges, and by not being utterly contemptuous of their rights and opinions. Argentina is a wonderful country in many ways, so it wouldn’t hurt to show the Falklanders that instead of the angry and jingoistic national vanity. Stop relying on the alleged justice of a 180 year old claim that was tenuous even then. It also wouldn’t hurt if Argentina did a better job governing itself instead of pursuing policies that turned one of the World’s richest countries a century ago into a “middle income” nation today (the recent pension grab by the Argentine Government is a perfect example of such a policy). Make Argentina a country the Falklanders wouldn’t mind joining, and make them feel like they would be a valued part of that country instead of consigned to the scrap heap if they agreed to do so.

  21. Elisa says:

    The UK proposes self-determination? And the Case of Diego Garcia Island?

  22. Ian says:

    I too have been to the Falklands and I found Port Stanley and the setting of the islands reminiscent of towns on the Cornwall coast. In no way did the islands make me think of Argentina. I thought Britain.

    I found this article very disappointing from a journalistic perspective. It is clearly prejudiced – nothing more than a piece of pro-Kirchner propaganda.

    Argentines fail to consider that the invasion of the Falklands was an attempt to impose a cruel military dictatorship on a peaceful, democratic people. Perhaps the issue of sovereignty could have been settled by General Galtieri had he dropped every islander out of one of his helicopters. Dictatorship, authoritarianism, censorship, theft of babies, torture and execution among other Argentine horrors awaited the islanders thirty years ago. Today an Argentine takeover would mean forced allegiance to a failed authoritarian “republic” known throughout the world for corruption – a country whose government is so dishonest that the Economist will no longer publish inflation statistics lest they be complicit in the cynical lies of the Kirchner administration.

    Why on earth would the Falkland Islanders want be Argentine? Can you imagine how Cristina Kirchner would manage the islands? The impeccable, well run and democratic Falklands would soon deteriorate as services declined, standards dropped and corruption became the norm. Officious government employees would sneer at the islanders, treating them contemptuously and refusing to speak English — of course few can speak English anyway. Talk about colonialism! As a colonial power Argentina would mimic the worst of nineteenth century imperialistic haughtiness. Ask people all over Latin America what they think of the Argentines and you’ll find few who have kind words to say.

    The French territories of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of eastern Canada seem to function quite well and I see no reason why the Falklands can not do the same. The islanders want to remain British. Argentina’s deplorable history of military dictatorship, authoritarian civilian government, lack of respect for press freedom, lack of economic freedom and horrendous history of human rights violations is sufficient reason to resist the current Argentine leader’s demands that Britain transfer power to Buenos Aires.

  23. Alberto says:

    Carol write:
    “To us, the British idea that “nobody was there so it did not belong to any country” is as ridiculous as the above mentioned. ”

    Do you prefer the Argentine idea that “millions of amerindians live here, let’s kill them and steal their land”?

  24. Brian says:

    Wow. This has been going on for a while.

    Let me start with Francesca Fiorentini in her comment dated June 20, 2011. I wonder if your journalistic expertise goes as far as knowing that NO General Assembly resolution is binding. Therefore the UK cannot be “in defiance”. Moreover, by this time, you will certainly have noted the words of the UN Secretary General. The UK is not in breach of any UN resolutions and the Falklanders do have the right of self-determination. If you want to call a spade a spade, I suggest you call Argentina a third-rate country with imperialist colonialist delusions of grandeur. Oh, and it regularly breaches international law, ignores court judgements and runs up debts it has no intention of repaying.

    For Florencia on September 21, 2011 can I just remind you that when Britain first settled the Islands in 1690, Argentina didn’t even exist! In fact, until Argentina’s genocidal “Conquest of the Desert”, the country itself was not much larger than the current Buenos Aires Province.

    For Jose on November 24, 2011. Oh dear, Jose. Is that what they taught you at school? Just so you get the correct picture, in 1806/7 there was no such place as Argentina. It was the Viceroyalty of the River Plate. Spanish territory. You might want to note that Spain was at war with Britain at the time. Therefore any Spanish territory was a legitimate target. Regarding the blockade in 1850, I can answer your question quite simply. In point of fact, there had been a blockade since 1845. And the prime mover was the French! There were many reasons but the primary one was that Juan Manuel de Rosas attempted to interfere with trade to places further up-river. A blockade that was brought to an end by the Arana-Southern Treaty that, supposedly, returned the Argentine Confederation and the UK to a state of “perfect friendship”. And therefore, by not mentioning the Falkland Islands, implicitly recognised British sovereignty. Regarding the UN resolutions to which you refer I, in my turn, refer you to my comment directed to Francesca Fiorentini. So, the Islands are already with their rightful owners. Just as a thought, Jose, you might want consider that with your 25% inflation, your massive international debts, your policy of ignoring judicial judgements, your breaches of international law, your regular industrial disputes, your widespread criminality and poverty and your genocidal history, you are hardly in a position to attempt to reach the moral high ground. And that’s without mentioning your constant belligerency. Oh, and regarding your “racist” constitution, have you not read the Article that obliges Argentina to encourage “European” immigration? Racist or what?

    Barbara November 26, 2011. And there you go revealing your ignorance. The “gauchos” arrived around 1828 as part of a British-authorised economic venture. And, by the way, the first to attempt to remove those people was the United States. Check out the USS Lexington in 1831.

    Carol December 27, 2011. You’d have liked us to take account of the views of a country that didn’t exist at the relevant time?

    Elisa April 5, 2012. What about Diego Garcia? Diego Garcia had no native population. Never did have. A point that you might like to take into account. The Chagos Archipelago has no natural sources of fresh water. A little bit of research and you would find that the original “occupants” were African slaves imported by the French to work the plantations of cocunuts. Even after the slaves were freed, the occupants were the contract labour of a Mauritian company. End of story.

    Alberto August 24, 2012. Yes, I do, Alberto. We dispossessed no-one and we killed no-one. By contrast, as you say, the Spanish and Argentineans dispossessed and/or killed millions. I wonder if you have ever seen the sort of comments made by Argentines elsewhere. It seems to be one of their proudest boasts that “there are no native amerindians in Argentina”. Shall we add in another thought. All that are left are “mestizos”. The product of Spanish and Argentinean rape, perhaps? More crimes against “humanity”?

  25. Eugene says:

    Signorina Fiorentini! The European settlers arrived in the Falklands the same way the European settlers arrived in Argentina; by boat. No one “introduced” settlers into the Falklands, they moved their because they thought it was a good idea, just the way your parents or grandparents left Italy, or CFK’s grandparents left Spain. The only Argentine “settlers” who were thrown out of the Falklands was a military garrison, and they weren’t even Argentine as Argentina wasn’t officially Argentina in 1833. The small civilian population in the islands at the time the British established their rule was asked to stay. Four (4) chose to leave. You need to do your homework and stop being a mouthpiece for Peronist agitprop.

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