Argentina vs Britain Rematch: Falklands/Malvinas War 2.0?

[UPDATE 2/14/2012 In spite of a new boycott against any ships flying under the British flag (and not just the Falklands) by the C.A.T.T. (the Argentine Confederation of Transportation Workers, akin to the Teamsters), a British oil barge arrived yesterday, south of Buenos Aires.  Meanwhile, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has presented a denunciation of the "militarization" of the South Atlantic by the U.K. to the United Nations.]

[UPDATE 2/3/2012 A historical take on the War from the Argentine side, including the classified analysis from within the military itself--the secretly smuggled out Rattenbach Report which contained the criticism: "the invasion of the Malvinas was a military fling/adventure." (The word 'aventura' in Spanish connotes utter recklessness, it's the word translated as 'love affair.')]

[UPDATE 2/2/2012 Here.]

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Population (Sheep): 600,000   Population (Human):  2,478 (in 2006)

Thirty years ago, Argentina and the United Kingdom fought a war over possession of a few small islands in the South Atlantic. The United Kingdom won and continued its claim to the islands they call the Falkland Islands (in Argentina, they're known as Las Malvinas). Increased rhetoric on both sides now is raising the specter of conflict once more. (And, incidentally, the war was begun by Argentina's military junta and the failure of the war was instrumental in weakening the government and bringing in democracy.)

Argentina has never renounced its claim to Las Malvinas (which is based on proximity and a time of occupation in the early 19th century). The United Kingdom's claim to the Falkland Islands is based on earlier and later occupation of the islands and the fact that the islanders themselves reject Argentine rule and want to be an overseas United Kingdom territory. The isolated islands are strategic in a number of ways: they sit atop oil and natural gas reserves in the South Atlantic.

Tensions subsided for the decades following the war as Argentina transitioned to democracy, but as the anniversary approaches, there's been a flare-up. At the Mercosur Summit this past December, members of the Southern Cone Common Market approved a proposal to close all ports to ships "flying under the illegal flag" of the Falkland Islands. Mercosur comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, meaning that ports on the Atlantic from the top of Brazil to the tip of Argentina are off limits.

The United Kingdom has, as expected, responded by expressing concern, affirming the right of self-determination of the islands. (Argentina counters that since these are not indigenous inhabitants of the islands, they were placed on the island by the British in order to establish their claim and therefore the argument of "self-determination" is invalid). Prince William's "provocative" anticipated visit (as part of his service in the Royal Air Force) in February and March will likely result in increased security on the island. Yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said "[W]e support the Falkland Islanders' right to self-determination. And what the Argentinians have been saying recently, I would argue, is actually far more like colonialism because these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else."

The "colonialism" comment led to protests in Buenos Aires and British flag burning and demands from Argentina's left that Argentine President Cristina Kirchner break diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom. And in an interesting counter-balance, United Kingdom Foreign Minister William Hague has just visited Brazil, pushing for deeper ties between the two countries.
Flag burning at yesterday's Buenos Aires protest ("English out of Malvinas!")

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One Response to Argentina vs Britain Rematch: Falklands/Malvinas War 2.0?

John said...

Americans are prone to see the Falklands conflict in terms of their own history but the Falklands is more complex. Did you know, for instance, that it was the USA that kicked the South Americans off the islands in the early 19th century? Readers may be interested in a brief but in depth analysis of the problem of Las Malvinas, especially the UN Resolutions and sovereignty claims, at Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Las Malvinas.


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