The debate over the Falkland Islands has been fiercely reignited by Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, after a copy of an open letter from her telling Britain to relinquish control is sent to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General.
Although this debate had somewhat died down, it has always been simmering in the hearts and minds of the Argentinian population and politicians, many of whom believe the Falkland Islands, known by them as the Malvinas in Argentina, should be returned by Britain. Kirchner’s letter accuses Britain of forcibly stripping the islands in a “blatant exercise of 19th century colonialism”.
Britain may be to blame for reigniting this hotly debated issue by naming disputed territory in Antarctica: Queen Elizabeth Land.
The President’s letter appeared as an advert in the Guardian newspaper and states that:
“One hundred and eighty years ago on the 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 (8700 miles) away from London,”.
She argues that the Argentinian cause is backed by United Nations resolutions which she urged Mr Cameron to abide by.
“The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.
“Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity.
“The Question of the Malvinas Islands is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism.”
Political Standoff Intensifies
Tensions rose considerably last year on the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war fought between Argentina and Britain, and this letter is the latest instalment in a lengthy standoff between Ms de Kirchner and Mr Cameron over this issue.
Cameron has so far rejected any demands from de Kirchner for a negotiation over the sovereignty of the islands, including those made by her at the G20 Summit in Mexico in June last year, in which the two clashed. The Primeminster reiterated that he believed it should be up to the island inhabitants, when they hold a referendum vote about whether to retain ties to Britain.
Ms de Kirchner had earlier attended the annual meeting of a little-known UN decolonisation committee, in order to express her demands directly to the UN.
At this committee she reiterated Argentina’s opposition to any more wars over the islands but also criticised Cameron’s decision to fly the Falkland Islands flag over his official residence at 10 Downing Street to mark the 30th anniversary of Britain’s victory over Argentina.
The section of the Antarctic which Britain has provocatively named Queen Elizabeth Land, is also claimed by Argentina, so Argentina’s foreign ministry handed a formal protest note to John Freeman, the British ambassador in Buenos Aires, regarding this name.
‘End to colonialism’
Ms de Kirchner’s letter continued: “In 1960, the United Nations proclaimed the necessity of ‘bringing to an end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations’.
“In 1965, the General Assembly adopted, with no votes against (not even by the United Kingdom), a resolution considering the Malvinas Islands a colonial case and inviting the two countries to negotiate a solution to the sovereignty dispute between them.
“This was followed by many other resolutions to that effect.
“In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations.”
Although the Argentinian argument is a strong one, as of course Colonialism should be consigned to the past and has no place in the present. Britain also has a convincing argument. As spokes people have stated there are not just two parties to this argument, Argentina and Britain, there are also the islanders themselves who on many occasions expressed their desire to retain ties to Britain. If the Falklands were returned to Argentina one could also question other similar islands around the world such as the Canary Islands owned by Spain, and Puerto Rico and Hawaii owned by the US. If the islands wish to remain British but the Falklands return to Argentinian hands and become the Malvinas once again, what will become of the islanders themselves.
It may seem to make more sense for the islands to be returned to Argentinian control due to the islands’ proximity to the South American mainland. The islands’ capital, Port Stanley, lies about 1,180 miles (1,898km) from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. This would not be easy though considering the desire of those living on the islands to retain ties with Britain. Perhaps another option should be offered to the islanders: independence.
What are your thoughts on this contentious confrontation?
Source: [Channel 4 News]