Let the Falkland Islanders live in peace and freedom

Foreign Affairs

It really is time for Argentina to move on from its petty obsession and respect the freedom and democratic will of the Falklanders, a peaceful people who have lived on and worked the land of their little island for generations. The Falkland Islands do not belong to Britain or Argentina but to the Islanders themselves. They are their own people with their own identify and history and they deserve the right of self-determination and the right to live in peace and freedom.

They are economically self-sufficient aside from their defence which is provided by Britain. We stand accused of militarizing the South Atlantic, but there would be no need for a military presence if it wasn’t for the hostility and threats coming from Argentina. It is they who invaded the islands and subjected the Falklanders to the violating trauma of occupation shortly before being roundly defeated. The Falklanders elect their own government, run their own businesses and industries and go about their lives in a quiet corner of the world, why continue with this petty vendetta against them?

The Argentinian position makes no sense whatsoever. They have absolutely no legitimate right to the islands and their continued deluded assertion of ownership is testament to their total lack of self awareness. Lisa Watson, the managing editor of the Penguin News, the Falklands’ only newspaper, is one of the more high profile residents and is regularly abused by fervent Argentinians on social media and told to “go home”, a truly idiotic form of bigotry. She is home! Lisa’s family first came to the islands in 1840 and her son is a seventh generation Falklander, as she pointed out in her recent Telegraph article; “most of the Argentinians who abuse me on Twitter are only second or third generation South Americans.” This emphasises the ludicrousness of their position.

From a young age the myth of “Las Malvinas” is instilled in the minds of Argentinian children. They are told tales of British colonialism and taught to believe in their inherent right to the “Stolen lands”. One wonders, are they not taught about the history of Spanish colonialism? Do they understand anything of their own heritage and their own national story? If they do, why do they not join the dots and realise how it undermines their case?

The Argentinians call the Falklanders “colonists” and argue their case in the UN on the basis of that the islands should be decolonised and handed “back” to them.  Yet their own country exists because of colonialism. Europeans first arrived in the region in 1502 and the indigenous population was progressively subjugated, killed in battle or wiped out by disease. Britain landed on the Falklands in 1690 and officially claimed it in 1765 while the land across the water was still a Spanish colony. The declaration of independence from Spain was issued in 1816, a constitution was written in 1853, and the country was formally recognised in 1857, 17 years after the Falklanders began to establish themselves permanently.

In around 1880 a massive wave of European immigration was instigated and encouraged by ten consecutive federal governments who emphasised liberal economic policies and population growth. Argentina is a country of immigrants; would we dream of telling them to go back to Spain? No. Then what right do they have to tell the Falklanders to “go back to Britain”?  The Argentinians are descendants of colonists, conquerors and immigrants, yet they are so brainwashed by their petty nationalistic myth of “la Malvinas” that they cannot see their own rank hypocrisy. The Falklanders have as much right to call their island their home as they have to call Argentina their home.

But still they persist. Successive Argentinian governments have fostered an aggressive obsession with the Islands in their people, it is one of the few things that unites them. It is even written into their constitution that sovereignty over the Islands should be pursued. It is time for the Argentinian people to realise they are being manipulated. Stoking nationalistic feeling is good way of distracting from the long term political and economic mismanagement by successive governments. The country now finds itself heavily in debt, with a stagnant economy and an archaic, withered military. There is nothing like encouraging tub-thumping at their hated neighbours to take the public’s mind off this.

They complain endlessly about the British military presence, but constantly issue threats and seek to disrupt the economy of the Islands. They threaten their oil company and fishing company partners and try and prevent other South American countries trading with them.  These are not the action of a victim, but an aggressor.

If Argentina was to take control of the Falkland Islands it would be a domineering and culturally alien master. Ironically, after all the self-righteousness, the Falkland Islands would be an Argentinian colony. Imagine that! The Islands a province, the Islanders subjugated and crestfallen with their rights violated and world turned upside down. There would be hysterical celebrations in the conquerors streets, but when the dust had settled, their country would have all the same economic and political issues, and the same constant bad governance.

Argentina needs to step back and respect the rights of a settled and peaceful people. They need to concentrate on their domestic issues and stop bullying the Islanders. The Islanders wish to remain British; their claim is reinforced with nearly two centuries of history. Britain’s right is based on the rights of the people to self-determination, and the expression of their democratic will.  In March 2013, the Falkland Islands held a referendum on its political status, with 99.8 percent of voters favoured remaining under British rule. The British administration of the Falkland Islands has continued uninterrupted since 1831, except for the Argentine occupation. Argentina attempted to use used force to assert its claim, and they lost. It cost more than 900 lives.

It is time to let it go and leave the Falklanders to live in peace.

Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Web Editor.  He blogs at The Sceptic Isle. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty