They're ours! No, they're not! Yes, they are!
May 27, 2010 10:03 AM   Subscribe

To commemorate Argentina's Bicentenary Celebrations 2 days ago, Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana appeals to the British Government to respect the "spirit of the Argentinian people" and reopen sovereignty discussions concerning the Falkland Islands, a British territory since 1833. Despite a recent increase in tension due to British companies beginning to drill to oil in the Islands, the new British Goverment has already rejected talks resuming.

In his appeal he talks of the claim being a pillar of Foreign Policy (since 1994 it has been part of the Constitution), and in direct response to a 2007 Seminar organised in London by the Argentinian Embassy, 2 British historians put together a detailed document (5Mb, PDF) countering the Argentinian take on history and their claims to the islands.

It's a long, but interesting read. Amongst other conclusions, they find that

"The Argentine claim that Britain expelled an Argentine population from the Falklands in 1833 is false; the settlement continued, and most of its inhabitants were from Buenos Aires."

and that

"Argentina dropped its claim to the Falklands by ratifying the Convention of Settlement in 1850. The failure to mention that this ended Argentina’s claim to the Falklands is a gross distortion of history. [...] After 1850 Argentina dropped all protests to Britain over the Falklands, and did not mention the Falklands to Britain for 34 years. The dropping of the Argentine claim was confirmed by Argentine leaders in their Messages to Congress in the 1860s, and the Falklands were not mentioned in any Message to Congress for 91 years until 1941. "
posted by jontyjago (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The 80s are going to be back forever.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

If Argentinean politicians are making noise about the Falklands, there must be something going on in Argentina that they don't want the people paying attention to...
posted by mr_roboto at 10:11 AM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

If Argentinean politicians are making noise about the Falklands, there must be something going on in Argentina that they don't want the people paying attention to...
posted by lalochezia at 10:54 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Colonialism is the new black.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:01 AM on May 27, 2010

posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on May 27, 2010

What the Falklanders actually want seems to get lost in a lot of these discussions. Last I heard, they were given the option and pretty much decided to stay with Britain. I don't see how the Argentinians have any claim, given that. It'd be pretty rich of them to cry 'colonialism' if what they're trying to do is basically forcibly annex a place and a people that wants nothing to do with them.

I'd like to see a lot less colonialist finger-pointing and a lot more respect for self-determination.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:01 PM on May 27, 2010

a lot more respect for self-determination. Exactly.

The clause in the UN Resolution that the Foreign Minister mentions in the Guardian article, which Argentina likes to wave around is:

6) Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Which in itself is iffy given the islanders have been British for the last 170 years, but it's their angle. However, they conveniently ignore clauses 1 & 2 of the same resolution:

(1) The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of World peace and co-operation.
(2) All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Pretty much fucks up their claim really.
posted by jontyjago at 12:17 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah. I lived in the Falklands for three and a half years (until three years ago), and self determination is the key argument for Falkland Islanders. There is no one there who wants the Islands to be part of Argentina, that was the case before 1982, and is exponentially more so since.

Every year Argentina goes to the UN's committee on colonialism (sorry, don't remember its proper title and am on my phone so can't look it up) to complain about the situation, overlooking the fact that Argentina, like all of the New World, is itself pretty much run by and in the interests of the descendents of colonial incomers.

Just so that the Argentines don't appear before the UN unopposed, a representative of the Falkland Islands Government also goes along, with a weary sense of resignation, and says "But we want to be British," and it's all over again for another year (apart from Argentina's periodic economic jabs, which had already hit Falklands tourism and, to a lesser extent, fisheries, long before oil was ever struck).

Thanks for the pdf link, jontyjago, will read with interest when I get a chance.
posted by penguin pie at 3:10 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Argentina remains its own worst enemy on this issue. If they had only refrained from invading, it seems clear to me that they could have had a leaseback deal and sovereignty years ago. Now every time they bang the table success gets further away.

What they need to do is go quiet about their claim for a couple of years, affect a supportive attitude, look towards developing friendly economic relations, and co-operation shading quietly into a joint role. If they can seem calm and friendly for long enough it will create space for the British Government to do what in its heart it has wanted to do all along: rat on the islanders and sell out in the most civilised, stress-free manner it can. But you can't make a graceful concession to someone who is shouting in your face.
posted by Phanx at 2:23 AM on May 28, 2010

A leaseback deal won't happen now, previous invasion or not. Not only are the islanders staunchly British, but the explorers have just struck oil, and it could well be a LOT of oil. Maybe as big as the North Sea fields, maybe close to Saudi Arabia's. The profits belong to the Falklands, but the UK gets some tax and contributions towards the Defense budget, which they really, really need right now.
posted by Spanner Nic at 3:11 AM on May 28, 2010

Ironically the British offered a deal a few years ago to share the oil revenue with the Argentinians which they declined.
posted by atrazine at 4:03 AM on May 28, 2010

It's even better! The two countries signed the deal, then Argentina unilaterally withdrew.
posted by Spanner Nic at 4:57 AM on May 28, 2010

For those after the Falkland Islanders' perspective, the Islands' weekly newspaper, the Penguin News, (downloadable pdf of the front page) pretty much sums it up today:

This exchange of notes has been described by the Argentine press as indicating an escalation of tension between Britain and Argentina, but many seasoned observers take the view that it is predictable rather than critical.

For more of an everyday window on Falklands life, download the back pages for the classifieds and events, which, alongside the chickens and Land Rovers for sale, include:

Forthcoming De-mining Events - Cancellation and
Introduction to Petroleum Geology for Non-Geologists.

posted by penguin pie at 8:38 AM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

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