Sticks and Stones

8 Aug

“What we are not going to do is to make British occupation of the islands any easier”

So threatened Arturo Puricelli, Argentina’s defence minister in an interview published yesterday in the Buenos Aires Herald.

Talking about the British presence in the south Atlantic, Puricelli stated that, “The military presence of any extra-continental power is against South American interests ….. Allowing the entry of third parties to intrude their political and economic opinions in the region is the spark for importing outside conflicts which do not do anybody any good and will surely lead us in the worst direction”.

Quite which ‘political and economic opinions’ these would be he didn’t go on to explain, but when asked about the way in which his concerns could be addressed the defence minister responded, ” ..We want the United Kingdom to review its position, sit down to negotiate and stop militarizing the South Atlantic .”

And then came the condition, “.. London would have to sit down and talk to Argentina but first of all, it would have to start with the sovereignty of the islands and their occupation by force … We do not want to negotiate with London over issues which might suit Britain without first discussing the legitimacy of Malvinas sovereignty.”

Quite why the British presence in the south Atlantic was such a threat to all of South America, or indeed quite who gave Argentina the responsibility of sorting the problem out is unclear. There have been recent Mercosur and UNASUR meetings, but no final declaration suggested that Argentina now speaks for all the continent.

This threat also has to be seen in the light of a recent announcement that Argentina is to build its first nuclear submarine, the lack of which has often been cited as a principle cause for the failure of its 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.

No mention was made of the islander’s rights to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Indeed any consideration for the islander’s as a people appeared to be of no concern to the minister, although, in a belated recognition that there were 3000 people living on the islands Puricelli added, ” … We’re inclined to respect the culture, lifestyle and language of the island population but we want them to come out of their isolation and occupation and recognize the legitimate sovereignty of Argentina and not the occupation imposed by a country 14,000 kilometres away like the United Kingdom.”

I am sure that the Falkland islander’s much appreciate Argentina’s concern for their welfare, if not their rights, their freedoms or their wishes.


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