Falkland Islanders Fight for Their Sovereignty

As the 30th anniversary of the Falkland Islands War approaches, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her administration have become increasingly confrontational toward the United Kingdom regarding the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. In recent attempts to express the seriousness of the Argentinean demands, the Fernández administration has instituted a number of punitive measures against the United Kingdom and the Stanley government. Fernández formally filed a lawsuit on June 4 against British petroleum companies pursuing “illegal” offshore oil exploration in the South Atlantic, as well as closing Argentine ports to British ships and denouncing the United Kingdom’s deployment of its military personnel, including Prince William, to the islands last February.

Source: Buenos Aires Street Art

By boldly asserting a territorial claim to the islands, Fernández has succeeded in unifying an otherwise divided Argentine citizenry and ignited another fierce debate between the Argentine and British governments. Each government has been attempting to gather tactical support from receptive regional and international actors. For both, the dispute remains a passionate and contentious issue characterized by malicious motivations and defensive actions. If neither side is willing to collaborate, the potential of this dispute quickly escalating to reciprocal militant destruction, such as the Falklands War, is foreseeable.

This year at their annual meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Latin American members of the Organization of American States (OAS) expressed strong unified support for Argentina’s sovereign claim over the Falkland Islands. In recent reports, Canada has supported the United Kingdom, while the United States remains officially neutral. Members of the international community continually have implored the sparring governments to establish a multilateral committee, involving Argentine, British, and Falkland governmental representatives, to achieve a more peaceful, diplomatic solution through ongoing constructive dialogue.

The Falkland Islands, a small archipelago 500 miles east of Argentina’s southern tip and home to about 3,000 inhabitants, has been the subject of an episodic dispute for 200 years. The dispute over rightful sovereignty quickly escalated to war in 1982 when the then-ruling Argentine military junta attempted to seize control of the islands. The conflict ended quickly following the arrival of the British military two months later, resulting in the collapse of the military junta as Argentine forces were ordered to completely withdraw from the islands.

Source: United Nations News and Media

To complicate the matter of sovereignty further, in 1994, in order to assert that the “Islas Malvinas solely and rightfully belong to Argentina” the government passed a constitutional amendment establishing its sovereign rights, in spite of the 1982 military defeat and the wishes expressed by the islands’ inhabitants. Tensions between these nations have quickly intensified following the discovery of offshore hydrocarbons in 1998.

In 2009, 27 years after a failed takeover by the Argentine military junta, the islands’ inhabitants established their first constitution, declaring themselves a “non-self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.” However, due to the islands’ small population, the country must seek assistance on foreign policy decisions and military protection from the United Kingdom. Furthermore, in accordance with the British Nationality Acts of 1983, the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands also possess full British citizenship, including health and pension benefits.

Fernández recently attended a UN decolonization meeting to urge the United Kingdom to enter into constructive negotiations over the Falkland Islands. She insists that the Argentines wish only to collaborate on this matter and are “not asking anyone to say, ‘Yes, the Malvinas [belong to] Argentina.’” British Prime Minister David Cameron responded to Fernández , “When it comes to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, there will be absolutely no negotiations.”

International media coverage has vaguely depicted Argentina’s efforts as well as the Falkland people’s perspective regarding their sovereignty. Instead, the majority of news coverage lamentably focuses primarily on Argentina’s persistent opposition and Britain’s continual hostilities.

As many Islanders point out, the Argentine government has routinely denied their right to self-determination and persistently obstructs their right to be a sovereign, decolonized nation. Moreover, the recent economic and maritime blockades, lawsuits, and protests emanating from Buenos Aires have only reinforced the feelings of distrust and animosity eliciting deep-rooted contention between the Falkland Islanders and the Argentine government.

In this spirit, the Falkland Islands’ government has announced its plans to hold a referendum next year to determine its political future.  Specifically, they are seeking to determine whether or not they wish to remain British citizens and maintain their status as a “non-self-governing territory of the United Kingdom.” The people of the Falklands believe this referendum will dispel any and all doubts concerning their determination, as a people, in regard to the pivotal issue of sovereignty, aimed at negating any claims on the contrary by the Argentine government.

In a recent interview at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Roger Edwards, a seventh-generation Falkland Islander and Legislative Assembly member, made an emotional appeal to the universal sentiment of self-determination, emphasizing that “by disregarding our right to self-determination and entrusting our sovereignty to Argentina over the United Kingdom would be a deliberate act against the wishes of the Falkland people and, therefore, sentencing them to subjugation, domination and exploitation by the Argentine government.”

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16 thoughts on “Falkland Islanders Fight for Their Sovereignty

  • June 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm
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    I am sorry but please get your facts right the Falkland Islands are a "self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom." Not a “non-self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.”

    They have there own Government and they make there own laws. the UK only helps with Diplomatic matters and Defence, we do not govern them.

    "self-governing"

    Reply
    • June 19, 2012 at 7:16 am
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      TheUKDragon,
      I appreciate your comment concerning the correct status of the Falkland Islands. You mentioned that you believe the islands' status to be a "self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom," however I would like to you to look at the link I have posted below. It will direct you to the United Nations website on decolonized "non-self-governing territories" and you will find the Falkland Islands/Malvinas listed there. And in reply to your second comment, you are correct that the Falklands government do have there own constitution for which they have established and followed without the governance of the United Kingdom; you are also correct that the United Kingdom only helps with foreign policy decisions (diplomatic matters) and provides them with military protection.
      http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/nonselfgovter

      Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 4:39 am
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    I think, it is not as easy as the authors present this sophiscated case.

    They don't take in consideration the painful history of Latin america at all.
    Who installed the Argentinian Junta? Who was responsible for Operation Condor? Wasn't it initiated by the successive adminstrations of the United States, but supported by the European governments, inclusively Great Britain?
    Who exploited Latin America ever since?
    What about the current military presence in front of the coast of Argentinia?

    While 3,000 people (from European site of view the number of inhabitants a village can have) seem to feel comfortable the majority of the Argentinians don't seem to feel comfortable, when
    Mount Pleasant is used by the Royal Navy, by corvettes by guided missile destroyer, by nuclear submarines frequently passing their coast in the South Atlantic, etc. The British Forces can be in case of emergency supported by the Falkland Islands Defence Force which is built by the inhabitants of the islands.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 9:55 am
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    Why is there a current military presence near the coast of Argentina? Could it perhaps have something to do with the Argentine invasion of 1982, followed by the military occupation that ended in the Falklands/Malvinas War? Prior to the Argentine surprise attack, the British military presence on the island consisted of a couple of squads of Royal Marines, if I recall correctly. The military presence, the training excercise, the maintenence of naval forces in the region, seems to be a prudent defensive measure given the history of the last 30 years, and the agressive atttitude being displayed by Fernández, Chávez, etc.

    And is the number of inhabitants relevant? At what point do a group of people who share an identity and occupy a specific territory have the right to self-determination? When there's 3000? When there's 10,000?

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  • June 19, 2012 at 10:31 am
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    Could it be that Britain itself is on the verge of economic chaos? Everytime it raises its ugly head the issue of the Falklands is brought up in London. First Thatcher and now Cameron. As one of your own veterans of the Falklands war said. "This was Britiain's first war as a stooge of big oil." So are these peevish comments and the peurile article.

    Reply
    • June 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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      I don't understand the relevance of the comment. It is not Britain raising the issue; Argentina's current government has been the instigator of the recent contretemps, in making agressive statements about the islands, imposing economic sanctions, attempting to isolate Britain from the rest of Latin America economically and diplomatically. So are we to understand that somehow the current controversy is a result of Britain's acting as a "stooge of big oil?"

      And as for the conflict that arose during the Thatcher era, that too was not precipitated by the British. The Argentine government launched an invasion, unilaterally attempting to impose its rule on the islands and their inhabitants. The British responded with military force after being attacked. So how does that make them "a stooge of big oil?" Is the argument somehow that they would not have responded to the attack unless they had designs on the–at the time hypothetical–mineral resources of the region?

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    • June 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm
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      Categorically incorrect on every count. Argentina felt they could invade in 1982 simply because the UK were downgrading military and naval protection for the Islands. At the same time the Thatcher govt had made diplomatic contacts with Argentina with a view to surrendering sovereignty in a lease-back deal. If it was all about oil, how come nothing more than a few barrels has been found in the last 30 years?

      Reply
  • June 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm
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    If Argentina has a right to the Falklands/Malvinas, then the Mapuche have a right to Patagonia. Britain first occupied part of the islands in the 1700s, and then finally in the 1830s. Argentina occupied "the desert" in the 1870s. Moreover, Bolivia then has a right to Acre and the Chaco and Atacama, Peru has a right to Arica and Parinacota, Mexico has a right to Arizona and California and so on and on and on all around the world. This is not to say that all territorial debates are pointless, but resolving many of them by going back to "the way things were before" would mean a whole lot of territorial changes that the inhabitants don't want, all over the world.

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    • June 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm
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      Mapuche is a media word for Araucano. They lived in the chilean side of the Andes south of the Bio Bio. Faught the Spanish in the Arauco War. They used to enter to Argentina to attack populations take the cattle andweapons and sell them to chilean burguesy. They used to dominate violently other pacific tribes and have no right whatsoever in any place in Argentina. This is supposed to be a discussion among instructed people so try hard to study the subjet and then give an opinion. When General Julio Argentino Roca conquest Patagonia there were no "mapuches" to oppose the presence of the Argentine State.

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  • June 20, 2012 at 6:30 am
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    Just a factual point; the Falkland Islands does not get ' health and pension benefits' from the UK. We have our own FIG pension scheme, and we have a reciprocal health agreement with the UK. The FI hospital and healthcare system is funded from FIG revenues.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 5:50 am
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    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 8:58 am
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    such a poorly written article.

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  • June 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm
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    The islanders have to get independence from the Falkland Islands Company first of all. Second Argentina does not have to return the country to anyone because we are not a european country occupying american soil. Argentina is an all inclusive nation that included the natives since the first beginning.There was no state authority here before the spanish came. And if you read Harry Ferns you can learn that the natives from Patagonia were in the Stone Age and could not be civilized. Argentina civilized them anyway. And Argentina also includes british people for instance welsh is spoken in Chubut the only place in the world where is spoken outside Wales. Temperley was the largest english community outside the Commonwealth before WWII. And so on. Argentina is the only country disputing the british habit to create artificial countries like Kuwait Belice Guayanas etc. in other ´s land and we will not cease. If Malvinas were under argentinian administration since 1820 the islanders would have roads trains aereal and naval communications universities and many opotrunities to have a great life than they have today. Regards from Bs. As.!!!

    Reply
  • June 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm
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    An something else: the Conquest of Patagonia is the argentinian contribution to Mankind. Every noble man on earth should be thankfull about that.

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  • September 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm
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    The Malvinas would be another bankrupt and corrupt province of the populist RoA.

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  • June 24, 2014 at 9:44 am
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    LAS MALVINAS SON Y SERAN ARGENTINAS, VINIERON DE TAN LEJOS A INVADIRLAS MALDITOS INGLESES
    PIRATAS! LADRONES!

    MIREN EN DONDE ESTAN UBICADAS EN EL MAPA Y SE VAN A DAR CUENTA! ESTUPIDOS!
    ASESINOS! INVASORES

    Reply

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