MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Falkland Islands Belong to.......

From time to time, the issues of the Falkland Islands are raised. It never ceases to amaze me how many people, especially those of a left-wing or anti-British bent, continue to parrot the views of the Argentine government. Essentially, that they are 'occupied' lands, illegitmiately held by British 'oppressers'.

A commenter on the Unelightened Commentary blog, called 'United Irelander', spewed out the same tiresome rhetoric:
(T)he Argentinian dictatorship sought to reclaim what was, unquestionably, Argentinian land.
Unquestionably? Really! Well I certainly question the legitmacy of their claims.

First of all, the Falkland Islands had never, prior to 1982, been officially under Argentine sovereignty. The claim of sovereignty comes mainly from the Spanish, who had sovereignty of the Islands from 1774, and ruled them as part of their Argentine colony. To achieve sovereignty, the Spanish had removed disputed French and British colonies from the islands.

When the Spanish government abandoned the islands in 1811, sovereignty of the islands was up in the air. After independence from Spain, in 1816, the new Argentina established a small fishing port and penal colony on the islands, and claimed sovereignty over them. Their claim was half-hearted, and never officially recognised by foreign govenments.

In 1833 Britain returned to the islands, this time determined to make a go of colonising them. The Argentine colony was expelled, and the British government encouraged settlement of the islands by 'selling' them as a pleasant land, brimming with life. The truth, alas, was somewhat less appealing, with the islands being windswept and barren.

Whilst the claim of sovereignty is complicated and open to dispute, many see the geographical element as cut-and-dried. After all, look at the proximity between Argentina and the Falklands. Yet, as we have seen, Argentina's claim comes almost entirely from Spanish sovereignty of the Falklands.

Furthermore, the original Argentina was based around the old Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, from Spanish colonial times. The Rio Plate is obviously much closer to the Falklands than Britian or Spain, but is still thousands of miles away. Modern Argentina is, indeed, very close to the Falklands, but that's only thanks to its bloodstained annexation of native Indian territories.

So, yes, there are legitimate aspects of the Argentine claims, but to say that the islands are certainly Argentine is nonsense. But I suppose it's just what you expect from anti-British bigots.

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