Argentina’s Colonialism v. British Colonialism

28 Jan

Colonialism has featured large this week in the growing verbal spat between Argentina and the United Kingdom, with each side accusing the other of indulging in it.

Carlos Kunkel, a long-time ally of Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner, claimed; “David Cameron is pursuing a policy of piracy and aggression because at home the economy is collapsing, there are riots in London, and Scotland and Wales want to escape the English empire. The islanders are a transplanted people who live in an occupied British enclave. You cannot talk about self-determination in those circumstances.”

That attack on the Falkland Islanders’ rights to determine their own future, as laid down in the United Nations Charter, was met by the British Prime Minister levelling the charge right back by referring to Argentina’s “colonial ambitions”. His aides went further by pointing out that Argentina was founded in Spanish colonialism.

One senior British diplomat added; ” The definition of colonialism is to look at some land and say, ‘We want it’, whatever the inhabitants think.” That’s Argentina’s policy on the Falklands. We know about colonialism, and it’s they who are the ones with colonial attitude.” Mike Summers, a member of the islands’ legislative assembly, whose grandchildren are eighth-generation Falklanders’ reinforced this with; “The reality is that 90-plus per cent of the inhabitants of North and South America and the Caribbean are settlers or descendants from settlers, as are New Zealand and Australia. The Falklands is no different.”

Cristina Fernandez then joined in by saying that Cameron’s accusation was unworthy of comment, and then commented on it; “ In this upside down world I’ve heard they were calling us colonialists … if I’m not wrong at a UN Decolonization Committee, I believe of the 19 or so pending cases in the agenda, referred to colonialism, 16 refer to the British, so let’s not talk about this anymore. Honestly, we are always tempted to respond, but sometimes we have to avoid doing so because when you hear such statements it’s because they have neither arguments nor reasons”.

Her Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, also could not resist by claiming in a surprise visit to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that Britain had no argument to the Islands as ‘territorial integrity’ trumped ‘self-determination’ every time. This may come as surprise to many international lawyers, and indeed, the United Nations, as the recent decision over Kosovo suggests the contrary.

Timerman referred to UN Resolution 2065 which he claimed refered to the Falklands as a ‘colonial situation’ but failed to mention that Argentina rather stabbed that Resolution in the back by invading the archipelago in 1982. He also ignored his British counterpart’s lesson on history, given when William Hague visited Brazil.

All in all, a very colonial week.

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