Thursday, 3 January 2013

Guardian publishes Argentinian claim to the Falklands

The Guardian has given President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a platform to reiterate Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands by running a full page ad consisting of an open letter to David Cameron claiming that "Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands".

The letter reads as follows:
Buenos Aires, January 3rd, 2013

Mr Prime Minister David Cameron,

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.

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.

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.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President of the Argentine Republic

Cc: Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
The history of the Falkland Islands is well documented and well known.  The islands were discovered and in 1592 by an Englishman and visited again by an English ship in 1594.  The name "Falkland" came about in 1690 when the Falkland Sound was named the Falkland Channel by an English naval officer after the Viscount Falkland who was financing their expedition.

A French privateer established the first colony in the Falklands in 1764 and named the islands Îles Malouines.  The Spanish name Las Malvinas is a translation of the French name.  A British military expedition arrived in the Falklands in 1765 and formally claimed the islands.  A permanent British colony was established in 1766.

The Spanish navy purchased the French-owned colony in 1767 and in 1770 took a military force to evict the British settlers from Port Egmont and later that same year the British navy retook the settlement.  The armed forces withdrew from Port Egmont in 1774 when it became apparent things were going to kick off in America and left a plaque reiterating British sovereignty over the islands.  British seal hunters used Port Egmont as a base for four years until the Spanish evicted them.  Spain administered the islands for another 35 years until they too had to withdraw when their South American colonies got restless.  The seal and whale hunters returned following the departure of the Spanish.

A Spanish pirate from the United Provinces of the River Plate (a territory fighting the Spanish for independence that modern-day Argentina was part of) sought refuge in the islands and later claimed 1820.  A Spanish settlement consisting mainly of German settlers from Buenos Aires was established in 1829 and came to an end in 1831 when the newly-independent United States of America sent a ship to recover the American boats that the Spanish pirates in the settlement had taken.  The Argentine pirate Luis Vernet remained on the island as its administrator.

The British navy sent an expeditionary force in 1833 to put an end to Spanish and Argentine claims over the islands.  Vernet was expelled and the colony put under the administration of his British deputies.  Some of the Argentinians left in Port Louis went postal in 1833 and the other inhabitants had to be rescued by the British navy.  The first settler sent from the UK arrived in 1834 and full settlement started in 1840.  Argentina invaded the Falklands in April 1982 and surrendered in June 1982.

Fernández de Kirchner's letter is factually incorrect and the Guardian is quite probably breaking the law by allowing a foreign power to lay claim to British territory in its paper.  The Falkland Islanders have repeatedly confirmed that they wish to remain a British overseas territory.  The British government can knock this on the head once and for all by having the talks about sovereignty that Argentina wants and simply saying "no".