Las Malvinas Son Los Falklands

Thirty years ago, during an economic downturn, the Falkand Islands became headline news in both northern and southern hemispheres. Recently, coincidentally, or perhaps not, the Falklands are again in the news, in the same hemispheres. Last time it was war. With ships, planes and infantry. This time the war is one of words. It’s been quite feisty though. It’s been front page stuff here and there over the last few weeks.

I’ve met plenty of Argentines on my travels, but the touchy subject of island ownership doesn’t often come up. The stubborn notion of Argentine ownership can be seen in many Argentine restaurants in DF though. Maps of their home country will always describe the islands as Las Malvinas.  When I have spoken to Argentines about the islands though, I’ve often been amazed at their complete lack of knowledge about the islands. Almost all of them believe the islanders to be Argentine. Almost all have professed their belief that the islanders want to be ruled from Buenos Airies, or at least that they want independence from Britain.

Almost all of them have clearly been taught ‘facts’ that bear no resemblance to reality. Although this article in the Guardian suggest that might be changing. Albeit very slowly. I’ve read the arguments in favour of Argentine ownership. They are all tenuous. There really is little basis for the claim, other than proximity. But even then, it’s hardly a stones throw from the mainland. The latest Argentine tactics of rallying the support of neighbours is all rather meaningless too. The Falklands have long been supplied by ship direct from the UK.

I do have one idea that might benefit the Argentines in furthering their claim. Accept British ownership. Quit worrying about it. Take the pressure off the situation. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Possession and a superior military is ten tenths of the law. Work on restoring normal relationships with both the British and the islanders. When all is said and done, the islanders are the ones who should have the final say in who, if anyone, is to govern them.

They stopped being colonial tenants a long time ago. They were born there, as were their parents, their grandparents, their great grandparents. It’s very clear that they currently want to be a British territory. It’s very clear that that is how they’ll think for the short to medium term. It’s very clear that current Argentine policy, together with previous Argentine policy, will only strengthen that feeling. Argentina is doing everything necessary to prevent their own aims. It’s self defeating.

How’s this for a radical idea. Once relationships have been normalised, set up increased trade programs. New tourism routes, working both ways. Sporting competitions. Work on being the islanders best friend. Work on being a beneficial neighbour, one they begin to depend upon. Work on embedding a relationship that eventually becomes more important to the islanders than their relationship to Britain.

And provide Argentines with the truth about the islands and islanders. Stop kidding them. I’m convinced it’ll work better than their current efforts. It’ll take a long time. It’s very much a case of playing the waiting game. Taking a longer view. But like I said, the short and medium term are decided already anyway.

 

 

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13 comments

  1. Very well written Gary! Very well written. If blogging doesn’t pay, what about writing for a newspaper? I think they even give you a camera if you ask!
    Keep up the good work!

    1. There’s a few good reasons I haven’t had newspapers queuing up. Starting with the fact that my posts are far too slap dash and superficial! Ending with my complete lack of contacts and/or qualifications. With a ton of stuff between the two. But if my blog keeps a few people enterntained, especially me, then all’s good!

    1. Mexico is a wonderful example! They dropped their claims on Texas et al a long time ago, and trade and movement of people has proliferated ever since. And the sheer demographic changes that such a policy has enabled may yet lead to an Hispanic president. Not imminently…..but in my life time? A distinct possibility, I reckon.

      As for the RoC – another good example. It doesn’t exist. I can prove it. There was a good documentary a few years ago on the subject. Really worth watching. All five episodes were very interesting..

      Although, if you’re looking for potential global sized powder kegs around the world, Taiwan is definitely one of them. I wouldn’t want to predict where the future government of the country lies. I just hope the arguments there are brought to a peaceful resolution. You’d hope that China has a moment of reflection and looks back at the last 60 or so years, and works out which side did best…those who followed Mao,or those who chose to march to a different drum beat.

      In all seriousness though, and given that the situations are so different, there’s really no viable or realistic alternative open to Argentina. They can’t gain the Falklands via their military. They can’t economically blockade the islands to any degree that will have an effect. Although maybe they could hold out for that Hispanic US president I predicted? Someone to swing (important) international opinion their way? Come that time, the better their relationships with the UK and (more importantly) the Islanders, the better their chances. They have the added advantage that, and I have no doubt about this, any British govt would generally be perfectly happy to sign over the islands if the islanders were happy with the deal.

      Same goes with Gibraltar. the UK would happily be shot of them. The issue is with the islands inhabitants. With Gibraltar though, the Spanish claim is concrete. It’s a physical spit off their mainland. It was seized by cannon and signed away at the end of a gun. The UK govt can’t give the the Rock back to the Spanish for political reasons. We should ‘impose’ independence though.

  2. Wooo, there is a lot about Falklands that I didn’t know before! I really thought Falklands was full of Argentinians. Actually, I thought Argentina won the war and that it was Argentine territory now. How bizarre. i guess I need to brush up on my history.

    1. Ay Emm!!! Start here…!

      I criticised Argentine knowledge regards the Malvinas earlier. You only need to look through the daft (and predictable) comments to quickly see there’s a lot of nationalistic ignorance on the part of us Brits as well.

  3. I’m not sure I understand how exactly you substantiate your claim that the islands are (and should continue to be) part of the UK. British sovereignity claims are extremely weak, and the argument that the islanders want to be part of the UK simply states the obvious. The islands were taken by force in the early 19th century, then populated by the occupying forces. No wonder their descendants want to be ruled by the UK.

    As a real politik argument, I can understand it. But from the point of view of international law, I think the Argentine side has, by far, the better case to claim sovereignity over the islands.

    1. The islands aren’t actually part of the UK, but that’s besides the point really. Argentine sovereignty claims are the more tenuous in my opinion They rely on very vague and non-specific references in a very old treaty, and on the false premise that the British renounced sovereignty in 1776. Sovereignty was never renounced – a plaque was left when the islands were temporarily vacated. Britain has claims on the islands that pre-date the existence of Argentina or any claim by pre-Argentine societies – none of which ever colonised the islands.

      But this for me is all a bit by the by. These are old documents which do not reflect the reality of what has happened since. History is often blurry. What happened between 1776 and 1833 was all very haphazard and blurry. The fact is that the current inhabitants of the islands want to be British, and while they are descended from colonists, they long ago ceased to be colonists. We are all descended from colonists, you know. Everyone of us. Where is the dividing line set between being colonists and being inhabitants? Ten years? A hundred years? Five hundred years? Again, it’s blurry. But with so many generations behind them, I couldn’t regard the Falkland Islanders as being anything other than rightful inhabitants. If not, are the many Argentines with European blood in them not also just colonists? And do they then even have a claim over Argentina, let alone the Falklands?

      Incidentally, the UK were open to UN based talks over sovereignty for many years after WW2 which Argentina declined to be involved with. In the couple of decades running up to 1982, relations did improve. The 1982 invasion set back any hope of Argentine sovereignty for decades. Maybe a century. Maybe more. Kirchner is just making the problem worse, and delaying any potential resolution further. If her intention is secretly to ensure the islands remain under British control longer, then she is doing a sterling job.

      It’s a shame. Argentina and the UK have so much more in common than we have to separate us. We have so much in our shared histories that is positive. We should be great friends. I mean, we brought football to Argentine shores for goodness sakes! :)

  4. Thanks Juan! And for the record, if you stick around here longer, I’m sure you’ll come to see that this post is more objective than it might seem. I’m not really much of a believer in Empires.

    And if anyone knows of a newspaper who wants this old gringo scribbling in the columns, just let me know! I’ve probably lost any chance of reporting for the Buenos Aires Herald though…! :)

  5. And there was more today….from the ‘hugely anticipated’ reports to the UN….

    He said Buenos Aires had intelligence that a Vanguard submarine was operating in the area. “Thus far the UK refuses to say whether it is true or not,” he told a press conference in New York. “Are there nuclear weapons or are there not?

    He’s being absurd. Firstly, he knows full well that Britain, along with all other countries with nuclear armed subs, will not discuss the whereabouts of a nuclear armed submarine.He wouldn’t have made this statement if that wasn’t the case. The blatant implication he’s hoping to draw is that if the UK doesn’t answer, then there must be a sub there……that’s a childish argument for him to make.

    The information Argentina has is that there are these nuclear weapons.

    I seriously doubt he has any information whatsoever that there’s a nuclear armed sub in the South Atlantic. Perhaps he should cough up the information. Else I assert he’s just making it up.

    Besides, is he suggesting the UK is about to launch a nuclear strike on Argentina??

    Argentina has accused Britain of … “militarising” the south Atlantic.

    Cough…1982…cough…Argentine invasion…cough. There’s no more ships, planes or troops there today that there has been for years. One ship replaces another ship. The latest is a new ship. What does he expect? Ships get replaced. New models come out. The new ones are usually more capable than the last. Big deal. There is only one reason there are British warships, warplanes and troops in the South Atlantic – the Argentine invasion of 1982.

    The Argentinian foreign minister…..showed slides of British military bases in the region, saying they represented a threat to all south America.

    Please be more precise Mr Foreign Minister. Exactly who is Britain threatening, why and when does he expect this attack to take place?

    Latin America used to be renowned for Tin Pot Dictators.The dictators have gone, but there seems to be something of a ‘tin pot’ revival.

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