Photo: Flickr/Tiger 2000
It started when Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner published an open letter in the Guardian calling for Prime Minister David Cameron to “cede” the Falkland Islands back to Argentina.From the letter:
One hundred and 80 years ago on the same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km (8700 miles) away from London.
So the angst is a long time brewing. Cameron wasted no time in telling Argentina what would happen if it attempted to retake the islands, as happened once in 1982.
Cameron basically said Argentina would get punched — from the Australian Associated Press:
Asked whether Britain would fight to keep the islands, [Cameron] replied: “Of course we would, and we have strong defences in place on the Falkland Islands, that is absolutely key, that we have fast jets stationed there, we have troops stationed on the Falklands.”
Concurrently, British newspaper The Sun waded into the debate, taking out an ad in a major English-language Argentinian newspaper, The Herald:
“Claims that 180 years ago Argentina was ‘stripped’ of the Falkland Islands are unfounded. No Argentinian civilian population was ever expelled. It was an Argentine garrison which had been sent to the islands to try to impose Argentine sovereignty over British sovereign territory … until the people of the Falkland Islands choose to become Argentinian, they remain resolutely British.”
Argentina then issued another response, slamming Cameron, of all things, for focusing on the wrong problems — Europeans need jobs, not tough talk.
The [Argentina] Foreign Ministry asked Cameron “not to use the legitimate and peaceful claims we make against the usurpation of part of our territory and against colonialism as an excuse to continue to support the arms industry rather than alleviate the severe social crisis that is sweeping Europe,” according to a statement e-mailed today. “People need more work and fewer wars.”
There are other claims Argentina makes, mostly about weapons and Britain’s military industrial complex (not likely fuelled by the 3000 residents on the Falkland Islands) and Falkland oil fields, but the kicker is that the population there overwhelmingly supports British rule.
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