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Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

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The Real Reason Behind Argentina's Renewed Interest in the Falkland Islands

The Real Reason Behind Argentina's Renewed Interest in the Falkland Islands

Argentina is persisting with its claims to the Falkland Islands, perhaps with a dangerous insistence that many in London had underestimated. Hector Timerman, the Argentine Foreign Minister, recently made outlandish statements and claims, and led open rows with British officials during his recent visit to London.

As Argentina’s claims on the islands began to resurface again, last year Britain had to divert assets and investment from other more pressing situations in West Africa and the Middle East, in order to build up its naval forces in the South Atlantic.

Stripping away the layers it is actually interesting to look at the history of the Falkland Islands in an effort to determine who has the greatest claim.

When discovered by Europeans in the 16th century the Falkland Islands were uninhabited. It was not until 1764, when France became the first to establish a colony on one of the islands, that people began to live there.

A year later, and unaware of the French colony, a British captain established a British settlement on a different island. The French then left their island in 1766 allowing the Spanish to take control.

In 1770 the Spanish then attacked the British island forcing its occupants to flee, but a year later the British were back to re-establish their claim and the colony town of Port Egmont became an important port-of-call for British ships in the area.

In 1776, the British withdrew its forces from the island due to the upcoming American Revolutionary War, yet the British citizens remained behind and the islands continued to be a part of the commonwealth.

In 1780 the Spanish then arrived back at the islands proclaiming their own sovereignty, destroying the British colony, and forcing the British islanders to leave. The Spanish ruled the islands from Buenos Aires until they left in 1811 due to various pressures from war at home and also calls for independence from their various colonies. Despite their departure the Spanish still claimed ownership of the islands (much like the British had), although British citizens were able to move back to the islands.

The first Argentine claim to the islands occurred in 1820 when an American colonel David Jewett arrived on one of the island with 40 soldiers and claimed them for the area that would become Argentina. He spent less than 6 months there before leaving.

In 1832 Argentina tried to establish a penal colony on the island, but upon arrival the soldiers mutinied and killed the captain.

In 1833 the British returned with a naval task force to permanently re-take control of the islands.

During the first and second world wars the Falklands offered an important port for the British Navy.

Argentine delegates first condemned Britain's "act of international piracy" in establishing a colony in the Falkland Islands at the London meeting of the International Parliamentary Union.

In 1976, after a military junta took control of Argentina, a military base was covertly established on Southern Thule (one of the islands). It was discovered by the British in 1977, where upon they made a diplomatic protest.

Argentina invaded the islands on 2 April 1982. For a brief period, the Falkland Islands found themselves under Argentine control. The British responded with an expeditionary force that landed seven weeks later and, after fierce fighting, forced the Argentine garrison to surrender on 14 June 1982. The junta that had taken control of Argentina and led the attack on the islands was toppled soon after.

Within the Falkland Islands Margeret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister at the time, is considered a heroine because of the determination of her response to the Argentine invasion. The islands celebrate Margaret Thatcher Day on every 10 January, and named a street Thatcher Drive after her.


Based on historical facts Britain clearly has the greatest claim over the islands, all Argentina can say is that the islands are closer to Buenos Aires than to London. So where do the Argentines find the sense of conviction to make such bold claims of ownership over the islands?

Diplomatic analysts say that the reason for Argentina’s increased interest in the islands is a political ploy by the President Cristina Kirchner. The battle for control of the Falklands is being made into a far bigger deal than it needs to be in an attempt to shift public attention from domestic economic and political concerns, amongst other problems.

David Cameron the British Prime Minister has taken a rather rational position and stated that the Falkland islanders themselves should decide to which country they wish to be linked; the vote will take place in March.

However Timmerman has dismissed this idea, remarking that the vote “doesn’t mean anything because if you ask the colonial people who came with a colonial power and replaced the people who were living in the Islands (although we have already confirmed that British citizens lived on the islands long before Argentina began to take interest), it is asking the British citizens of the Malvinas Islands if they want to remain British.”

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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  • stephen on February 12 2013 said:
    Just because the islands were uninhabited doesn't mean anyone can turn up and lay claim to them. If so, then there are many uninhabited islands around Britain that Argentina can land on and set up shop.I think your analysis is far too simplistic.
  • martyn wyatt on February 13 2013 said:
    The islands are almost 300 miles from Argentina. Were proximity to be a reason for sovereignty then France could claim Britain, at a mere distance of 21 miles. Argentina even claims the falklands and south sandwich islands (and parts of antartica) because they are on same continental shelf (numpties).
    Britain's rule has endured for 180 years, longer than the existence of Argentina. This is a longer period than Texas has been a part of America. If the falklands were given (though never taken) to Argentina because 180 years is too short a time, then America should give back Texas to the Mexicans.
    Argentina signed a treaty in 1850 and that ended its claim on the Falklands and for 91 years everything was all fine and dandy between the two countries. In 1941 argentina made a claim for the islands as they thought the Axis forces would beat Britain and the Allies. the 91 year period proves the end of the Argentina claim. To claim that Argentina has sought the islands for 180 years is completely untrue.
    So Britain is cool and clear on its role in the falklands story and aside from history and legality, britain also has the UN Charter on self determination.
    The Argentine claim to the falklands is weak, very weak. Argentina knows this and uses the falklands as its whipping boy when things are tough on the domestic front.
  • Rufus on February 13 2013 said:

    Back in the early 19th Century that's exactly what happened in numerous cases.

    The immediately notable difference is that while the Falkland Islands were uninhabited, the southward expansion of Argentina that occured in the 1870s (back in the 1830s Argentina effectively ended at the Colorado river) was very much inhabited.
    Was being the operative word, Argentina honours the man who was responsible for the "conquest of the desert" but what is left of the Mapuche and the other tribes of Patagonia do have a somewhat different view of it (as in genocidal ethnic cleansing).

    It's strange that Argentina never seems to mention that bit of their history while claiming the Falkland Islands.
  • BritBoB on February 13 2013 said:
    Ill trust the words of the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon when on 12th November 2012 he was being interviewed by a reporter from the Argentine newspaper Tiempo Argentino about the forthcoming Falklands referendum and sasi,'The impression is that people should have access to certain level of capacities so that they can decide on their future.'
    The 3,000 Falkland Islanders do not wish to become part of an Argentine colony just like the people of the Canary Islands do not wish to become part of Morocco.
  • Steve on February 13 2013 said:
    Rather well written IMO.

    Stephen - your comment is what can be best described as simplistic.

    Before Argentina talks too loud about the occupation of uninhabited islands they maybe should pay more attention to how they got Argentina in the first place.... uninhabited? I think not
  • MasterOfPhoenix on February 13 2013 said:
    Rufus, the islands weren't uninhabitated in 1833....Spain administrated the islands since Buenos aires, and when argentina became independent, the islands kept being administrated since buenos aires....you are confusing the claim over patagonia with the claim over the islands....which are totally different things...Argentina did not claim the islands only because of being near....but because argentina administrated them since 1823 from buenos aires...until in 1833 the UK invaded them expelling all the argentines from there....
  • BritBob on February 13 2013 said:
    The British first claimed the islands in 1765 - Argentina did not inherit the islands from Spain. Vernet the Argentine hero had permission from Britain to set up a seal business on the islands but was then made governor by the Argentine's - an illegal act. When the Royal Navy arrived in 1833 the Argentine garrison was told to leave but the majority of the settlers chose to stay. The 6 settlers that chose to return to Argentina had only been on the islands a few weeks.
  • PSQL on February 13 2013 said:
    I agree that people should determine they own future. The people that are living in the Island Malvina's want to remain British, so they should!
    But the Islands are, and always where part of Argentina as Buenos Aires is. I believe more British citizens live in Buenos Aires, than in the Malvinas. What is this fuss about?
  • Alan Falk on February 13 2013 said:
    I visited the Falkland Islands with a Lindblad Cruising tour in late 1982. We were the first civilians to set foot on the islands after the war with Argentina.

    The naturalists' lectures onboard ship pointed out two reasons the Argies wanted to claim the Falklands, neither of which appears in the article or comments I've read so far...

    1) Argentina has (or had) no recoverable petroleum resources. But it did have a continental shelf that extended out to and beyond the Falklands. As other countries had discovered, petroleum deposits often are found under continental shelves. Sounds like a good bet to try to claim them as their own...

    2) By some not-so-agreed-upon international "agreements," if any country ever can lay claim to any part of Antarctica, its claim would at least in part be based on the angle of longitude it subtends on the world map. Adding the Falklands to the "angle subtended by Argentina" would increase its claim on Antarctica by A LOT. Keep in mind the reports of large coal deposits buried under a LOT of Antarctica's ice. IF anyone figured out how to retrieve those coal deposits in an economical fashion, it might provide Argentina with a large supply of energy that they don't have now.

    Sounded plausible to me in late '82 and still does now.

    Submitted for your consideration...
  • rogerlux on February 13 2013 said:
    England's History it's plagued with disrespect for other nations rights.- The occupation of Ireland and Gibraltar are just a couple of examples of british contempt and disregard even toward her European neighbors.- Returning Hong Kong to China was done because of the overwhelming size of chinese military power, the only language that Britain understands.-
    Mr Kennedy should fully include arguments of both parties over the dispute, particularly the Nootka Agreement, and the fact that argentinian settlers and the Governor Vernet were not consulted if they wanted to be part of the Empire but expelled at gunpoint, in the classic Royal Navy style; also, it is worth mentioning the fact of two previous failed mainland invasions and occupation of Buenos Aires which in spite of the british army defeat and surrender didn´t prevent the government treasure robbery by Beresford and Pophan, the british expedition commanders,of more than million sterling pounds in gold and silver ever be returned from England.-
    Also, the fact that Samuel Fisher Lafone a wealthy jewish uruguyan resident with key contacts in the City of London and largest landowner in the Islands, was not allowed into Buenos Aires and therefore in the islands, for braking the law in a previous escapade, so he travelled to the UK and obtained the necessary RN support to reach his island state, prove to that is the "Lafonia Plateau" in the central eastern island, receiving the name on his honor.-
    "So might is right" has been and is the one and only argument the bloody History of England.-
  • Dave on February 14 2013 said:
    I see kno one has noticed the Big Elephant in the room. Natural gas, with substantial Oil reserves.
  • Martyn Wyatt on February 14 2013 said:
    rogerlux, it is not worth mentioning much of you comments since one would have you believe that britain was the only bad boy on the planet. The spainish empire was huge and vicous with genocidal attacks on indigenous races (not a trait of the british empire) and attacks on Buernos Aires was an attack on Spain with whom we were at war.

    A mistake in this article is the Captain Jewett saga. The captain had failed at his task of trying to set up a colony/base . Later an american sea captain got interviewed by an american newspaper and during the interview essentially said "oh and by the way, I saw this captain Jewett fellow carry out a ceremony to claim the falklands".. even Argentines did not know about this! But this was 55 years after britain had already carried out its own claim ceremony.

    so rogerlux, condemn britain if you must, for having an empire, though don't forget to mention the Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, Portuguese, Macedonian, French and the Mogul empires, 3rd Reich, they were all at it.
  • g masner on February 14 2013 said:
    actually, by international treaties, they belong to Uruguay. Spain passed their posessions controlled from the port of Montevideo to Uruguay in 1846. this treaty was ratified by the argentinean government in 1972, as part of the antartic treaty.
  • Gonzalo on February 14 2013 said:
    There are few punishments as vile as being an Argentine subject, in a country well known for its frequent financial collapses, criminally poor and corrupt government, runaway inflation, the worst theft rate in all of the Americas, and the murder of tens of thousands of its citizens (along with a number of foreigners) during the Dirty War that ended with, not coincidentally, the defeat of the Argentines in the Falklands. So in the interests of kindness, even if there were no other reason, Argentina should be contained and the present residents of the islands must be allowed the greater liberty and decency that comes with being, well, certainly not Argentines.
  • George Ferguson on February 14 2013 said:
    If Argentina wants these crappy little barren Islands with their horrible, gloomy weather year round, let them have them. The couple of thousand Falkland Islanders could be given free land in the equally gloomy north of Scotland. Some people just like gloomy climates.
  • chas on February 14 2013 said:
    Hi Guys
    maybe we should all cease claiming and start living together yesterday is gone and believe me " one day there will be a man on the moon " maybe it's time to mature and grow up just relax and chill and then the one percent might just have to look after themselves. Time jut may be an "ill u shun"
  • rogerlux on February 14 2013 said:
    Martyn Wyatt, There were two Gvmts. in Spain at the time, and one was having England´s support.- Nevertheless, Catholic Spain was always in the crosshairs of masonic England since Phillip II became king of Spain and Portugal (another english crypto-colony in Europe) and fully controlled the access to the Mediterranean Sea, so brits became friends and combined forces with turks, sarracins and muslims of all kinds to weaken Spain and have back the route to Jerusalem.-
    About the English Invasions of Buenos Aires: William Pio White an american merchantman and slave trader of the time residing in Buenos Aires, contacted an old time friend whom he met while living in India, Sir Home Riggs Pophan who owed him a large ammount of money spent in lifestyle and gambling; and told him that there was a large gold & silver bullion in the fortress guarding the Buenos Aires harbour that could be easily seized by a military expedition.- Pophan travelled to Capetown to ask for support from the local military commander who told him that all was needed was the East India Company approval and financing for the expedition.-
    The relevant fact it is that, after the defeat, Pophan was court- martialled and demoted for not having the Royal Navy´s authorization, as stated in one of the charges, so officially the Crown was not compromised, but the bullion was never returned to the legitime owners.-
    Certainly but partially, you´re right about empires, present times are not the same as they were almost two centuries ago, yet it seems that England still lives on the offensive imperial style when dealing with other nations as though, others rigths and borders only belong to the wild tribal colonial districts of the kingdom, feeling free to decide as seen fit.-
    Last year, England decided to burn archives and records belonging to her colonial past particularly
    those related to suppressing uprisings, indeed plenty of shameful actions must have been hushed to not reveal how deep in blood is submerged the predatory history of the UK.-
    Getting to the point of the Malvinas/Falkland issue:In 1824 England recognizes Argentina as successor of the Spanish Viceroyalty of the River Plate, which included the Islands, in 1825 a commerce and friendship treaty was signed between the two nations.- Worth mentioning it is the ruling in the british Spartiate when sentencing indians revolted against the Brit occupation: "not a crime commited in British territory".-
  • CLopez on February 15 2013 said:
    1. The British settlement was established TWO years after the French one, and there's written evidence that they knew the rumors about it;
    2. The French didn't "left the island": they transferred (not "sold") the settlement to Spain, with all its people in it;
    3. There's written evidence (first-hand accounts of it) that the 1776 withdrawal was in response to a secret promise made to Spain in 1770. You returned there only to save face: the withdrawal was already pacted;
    4. "In 1780 the Spanish then arrived back at the islands proclaiming their own sovereignty, destroying the British colony, and forcing the British islanders to leave." Utter nonsense!! Hahaha
    5. The first Argentine administrative act of sovereignty occurred in 1810, a few days after revolution;
    6. You censured a large part of history between 1820 and 1832...
    7. Finally, you "forgot" to mention that in 1833 you expelled Argentine authorities from the islands, and lowered the Argentine flag that was in place since 1824.
  • John Lewis on February 16 2013 said:
    It's not a fair vote in March, because they are used to British rule, the question is would it make a difference if Argentina took over.
    Would the people be safe knowing the history of Argentina, would the laws change, would they be able to keep the place where they live, will the Argentine flood over to the Falklands and make trouble there and force the residents to leave, there are many concerns.
    The vote this time must be no, before any take over there must be talks and laws and safeguards put in place.
    Next problem is the oil off shore what will happen to that, the Falklands port is very useful place, there is a lot of talks if they ever go back to Argentina which is not belong to the Agentines anyway, going what we been told in the U K.
    What sort of case have they for the take over, because I say Wales have a better case that Argentina, because Wales was taken over by England so what right have they got over us.

    Also you could go further, what right have the USA got to take land off the Indians, and give them barron land to live on at the time, and then call them second class citizens in their own country.
  • John Lewis on February 16 2013 said:
    It's not a fair vote in March, because they are used to British rule, the question is would it make a difference if Argentina took over.
    Would the people be safe knowing the history of Argentina, would the laws change, would they be able to keep the place where they live, will the Argentine flood over to the Falklands and make trouble there and force the residents to leave, there are many concerns.
    The vote this time must be no, before any take over there must be talks and laws and safeguards put in place.
    Next problem is the oil off shore what will happen to that, the Falklands port is very useful place, there is a lot of talks if they ever go back to Argentina which does not belong to the Agentines anyway, going what we been told in the U K if you can believe politicians.

    What sort of case have they for the take over, because I say Wales and Scotland have a better case that Argentina, because Wales and Scotand was taken over by England so what right have they got over us all.
    Most of the colonies are independent now.
  • Alun Williams on February 16 2013 said:
    What is without doubt is that Britain does not own the Falklands/Malvinas and should withdraw from the soverignty argument. To insist on soverignty is purely colonial. That Britian still has colonial objectives where money is concerned is clearly demostrated by the tragic situation when in August 2009 Britain invaded TCI in a bloodless coup and has since confiscated all the islanders wealth using the proceeds of crime Act. Ousting the elected president. Sadly for Turks and Caicos they do not have another country to defend them so the British still occupy.

    Britian should leave the Falklands/Malvinas and leave Argentina to discuss any remaing issues with the actual inhabitants of the Falklands.

    Patagonia is almost entirely inhabited by the Welsh, I am Welsh and live in Patagonia. Our forfathers escaped persecution by the English and found sanctuary in Patognia.

    If anyone outside of Argentina has claim to the Falklands/Malvinas it is Wales. In Patagonia we the Welsh are a race and a people forced to flee our homeland in Wales because of the English. We asked Argentina for land and respect for our language, religion and traditions. In return we agreed to hoist the argentine flag and submit ourselves to the country's laws. We arrived in force on mainland Patagonia around 1865 some of our people went to the Malvinas and stayed there.

    The Islands are off our coast and although we hoist the Argentine Flag and obey Argentine law we are also able to make our own laws and lead life the way we choose.

    We would certainly welcome the oil revenue from our Islands. Patagonia operates as an offshore tax haven within Argentinian juristdiction and we can assist in the development of our offshore Islands whilst protecting the wildlife.
  • Charles Price on February 19 2013 said:
    As the Argentinians were still displacing and murdering the former inhabitants of the land that they stole in order to create Argentina while the Falklander Islanders were already settled in peace, the argentines can only truly be described as hypocrites of the highest order. The people of the Falkland Islanders will no doubt tell them what they think about them once again in a referendum in less than a month and their wishes are the only ones that matter.
  • Martyn Wyatt on February 22 2013 said:
    Alun, you talk some sense and some nonsense. The falklands were discovered and claimed and inhabited by brits, long before the creation of Argentina. France had people there, which the spanish removed, brits were removed by spain, spain apologised, argentines arrived to create a garrison and penal colony, it all went to pot with the Gaucho Rivero and his chums murdering the civic leaders and so britain re-established its administrative presence on the islands, all 30 years before you guys hot footed it to Argentina. The welsh left wales to search for new pastures as britain's coalfields and similar areas suffered huge depression and so your ancestors searched for a new life, persecution was not the reason at all, some of your ancestors even up sticks and moved from north america to patagonia.... incidently almost all welsh mining communities are descendents from an influx of english doing the same thing years earlier (yes Alun, if you can trace your roots to the mining community, there's a good chance you are english to the core).
    Your claim to the falklands has much more credence than the argentine one, which itself has no foundation. At the time of the french (bouganville) settlement, spain had no idea as to the whereabouts of the island.
    The expulsion of the argentine garrison but not the people, is duly recorded in british and argentine historical texts, the great naturalist Sir Charles Darwin independenly recorded the nature and size of the population of the islands just months after the military expulsion. Historical fact from many sources, 180 years of brit administration, the UN charter on self determination, give Britain and the Falklands a rock solid case for sovereignty. As Hague says, the argentine claim is pure fantasy. The argentines do not go to the ICJ, rejecting 3 previous invitations, 1 on falklands, 2 for the south sandwich islands, they refuse, they know their claim is weaker than a teabag after its 5th use.
    Don't discount the integrity issue, britain abides by the UN charter and resolutions (just ask Ban Ki Moon). In 1976, Chile & Argentina went to the ICJ about the beagle channel islands, it lost the case, it threw a tantrum and rejected the adjudication, it has no integrity.
    I'm english, I live in Cardiff, it's a fantastic metropolitan city, just up the hill is Caerphilly, with its fantastic and awesome Castle, off towards england is Newport (which really needs lock gates over across the river, to make it thrive). I moved here following work opportunities... just as your forefathers did.
  • Bill Reddick on February 25 2013 said:
    Firstly, Mr Williams, i couldn't help but laugh at your obvious faux pas when you offered the solution of the Argentine Government talking directly to the Falkland Islanders. Timmerman walked out because Hague thought that they, the elected representatives of the inhabitants, involved in this Wyatt Twerp drama, should certainly be present.Look the Argies if nothing else have given us some hilarity at their inept attempts at bullying, cajoling, threatening, and worst of all stretching the actual truth of the matter.My question to you Mr. Rogerlux is, under the law, under the charter of the UN, will Argentina accept the decision, whichever way it happens to go, or not in the case of continued sovereignty by the United Kingdom, or not, of the inhabitants of the Islands in question? Other than that, you can bring as many blustering unproveable "facts" as you wish, as it really makes no difference to the final outcome.The facts, the real historical facts, whatever they happen to be, won't matter, and you and the rest of the weeping ninnies who can't get your own way, will have to abide by the law and the UN charter, do you understand? This farce has gone on quite long enough, or do you have several hundred more 30 year olds who wish to become statistics, besides being pawns of a government and country whose inflation rate is nearing 10 per cent? It is common knowledge as to why these islands are so important to Argentina right now, and like North Korea you expect us to believe that what you say is true and irrefutable, and how dare we question your logic! Sorry it doesn't work that way. Great Britain and it's inhabitants was founded on principles of honesty, fair play, hard work, fighting injustice, defending the weak, and many citizens have died over the millennia for just those causes, and no i'm not being dramatic. Do you really expect us to turn tail and run, just because the mighty Argentina roars? The fascists tried that twice, and look what happened to them! We may not have won a great victory, as many died fighting or just walking down the street, but we stood up for what we thought was right, defending our principles. Why on earth do you think we should be any different now?
  • agf on February 28 2013 said:

    The islands were discovered by Spain in 1520. Since then, they belonged to the spanish crown. After a british and french invasion, they negociated and accepted spanish sov.

    Years later, in 1816, when Argentina got independent, the islands were inherited from Spain. An argentinian gov. ruled the islands and many criollos stablished there.

    In 1824, the UK recognized Argentina as an independent country without protesting it's administration of the islands.

    On 3rd January 1833rd, the UK expelled by fource the argentinian settlement. Argentina protested since then.

    1982, the military junta could not wait any more for billateral negociations to conclude and in march of that year, the UK provoqued the so called Incident of Georgias, with obligued Argentina to occupied Puerto Argentino.

    The war was lost by the dictatorship.


    The UK negociated sov with a fascist dictatorship but not with democratic governments.

    More than 40 UN resolutions stated the pple of selfdetermination does not apply. Instead, the national integrity pple is to be applied. The UN called the UK to sit down and negociate sov with argentina in billateral way. Argentina and Ban Ki Moon still waiting...

    The UK holds 11 of 16 colonization cases in the UN. The one of the Malvinas is one of them.

    #UK #givepeaceachance

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