Alicia Castro, Argentina’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, today issued a statement on the 30th anniversary of her country’s defeat in the 1982 Falklands War, and on the day that her President, Cristina Fernandez, will stand before the United Nations Decolonization Committee to renew her accusations against the UK.
Half-truths and a veiled threat.
In her message, Castro repeats the Argentine claim that the sovereignty dispute over the Falkland Islands goes back 179 years to 1833, when a British force ousted an Argentine Garrison which had established itself on East Falkland in the last few months of 1832.
This is only half-true of course.
Castro fails to mention that Britain had disputed sovereignty with Spain since the first British claim of 1765, or that Spain maintained its own claim until 1863 when it recognised British sovereignty.
She also fails to mention that Argentina, which didn’t exist before 1816, was warned in 1829 that the archipelago was claimed by Britain, and that they should not presume any authority over the islands. Buenos Aires ignored the warning, made no counter-protest, but sent an armed force to gain control. It was asked to leave in January 1833 and wisely chose to do so with no loss of life.
Castro then distances herself from the Military Junta which started the Falklands War in 1982, during which nearly 1000 young men lost their lives, making no reference to the crowds in the Plaza de Mayo or her countrymen dancing in the streets when the invasion was announced.
The Ambassador goes on to claim that the United Nations has urged that the UK negotiate with Argentina over the Falklands, but again fails to mention that the last call was in 1988 following which diplomatic relations were restored; that there have been no General Assembly Resolutions calling for negotiations since that time; or that Resolution 2065, which recognised a dispute, was stabbed in the back in 1982. It died of its wounds.
Castro then dismisses out of hand, what has been described by the UN, and its court, as a “fundamental human right”, which is that of a people to determine their own future. To suggest with weasel words that this right does not belong to a people with families that go back 9 generations is not just a half-truth, it is a damned lie.
To then go on to claim that Argentina has the interests of the Falklanders at their hearts is at best disingenuous, at worst a fraud.
Peace and reconciliation are possible. All that has to happen is that Argentina needs to do what it signed up to do when it inked the UN Charter in 1945; recognise the Falklanders’ right to a peaceful existence, and to decide their future for themselves.
Alicia Casto ends with a veiled threat, which is that if the UK wishes to have a good relationship with Argentina and its neighbours then it should make a political gesture, presumably to sell the Falkland Islanders down the river.
Other gestures may be more appropriate.
The full article as published in the Independent newspaper is here:
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the war in the South Atlantic, but the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the UK goes back 179 years. It dates from the time that Great Britain – in much the same way it invaded Buenos Aires in 1806 and 1807 without success – invaded and took the Malvinas by force in 1833. In this lengthy historical process, the events of 1982 are the most regrettable. The military junta that ruled Argentina at the time abandoned negotiations and started a war as a vile attempt to win people’s favour and cling to power. Nowadays, a democratic Argentina repudiates the war and prosecutes those responsible for the crimes committed.
Today, our President attends the meeting of the UN Decolonisation Committee, the body that specifically deals with 16 pending colonial situations, including the “Malvinas/Falkland Question”. The international community – through the UN and other multilateral fora – has urged both countries to resume negotiations. So this is what my country asks: that the UK enters into negotiations with us over the future of the islands.
Britain’s excuses for not negotiating are unfounded. They cannot hide behind the so-called self-determination of the islanders when no UN resolution has recognised such a right, unlike cases in which the principle is applicable in the context of decolonisation. This is a special case that involves a colonial territory, not a colonised population; its inhabitants are not the original people of the islands. It is a population installed by Britain after 1833. There are only 1,339 inhabitants who were born in the islands. And more than 1,500 soldiers. Is it rational that the “wishes” of this population obstruct the relations and understanding between two countries and two regions?
We are committed to respecting the islanders’ interests and way of life. They are British and proud to be so; we respect their Britishness and identity. We are willing to offer safeguards to preserve their way of life. It is in their own interest to improve links with mainland Argentina. Geography and common sense dictate the need for negotiation.
Latin America has expressed as a single voice in support of Argentina’s claim. If the UK wishes to build a stronger relation with our region, it has to make a political gesture and listen to the calls for negotiation by the international community.
The trauma left by the conflict on both countries requires a solution by a genuine reconciliation. The only victory that can ever be celebrated will be that on the day when our respective nations sit down at the negotiation table to the benefit of peoples of both parties. War should not be celebrated. The only way of honouring the fallen from both sides is to strive for peace and reconciliation.”