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Argentinian Governor Pledges No Surrender to ‘Pro-British’ Figures Endorsing UK Rule of Falklands

© AFP 2023 / DANIEL GARCIAView of Stanley from the route to Mount Pleasant, Falklands. (File)
View of Stanley from the route to Mount Pleasant, Falklands. (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.08.2021
In February, the UN Special Committee on Decolonization unanimously ratified a resolution calling for the resumption of negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom over their conflicting claims to rule the islands Buenos Aires calls Islas Malvinas and London calls the Falklands.
The governor of Argentina’s southernmost Tierra del Fuego state took to Twitter on Monday to rage about Argentines he said were “trying to normalize the occupation” of the Falkland Islands, a territory controlled by the UK and claimed by Buenos Aires, which launched a failed invasion in 1982.
"I want to express my rejection of the advance of the 'pro-British' movement by a sector of the opposition, which is against the sovereign rights of our country over the Malvinas and the South Atlantic Islands,” Tierra del Fuego Governor Gustavo Melella wrote on Twitter on Monday, using the Argentinian name for the Falklands and South Sandwich Islands, respectively.
Both archipelagoes, which sit in the frigid waters off Argentina’s eastern coast, have been territories of the United Kingdom for more than 150 years, although settlements by other nations, including Argentina, did exist before then.
In the final months of Argentinian military dictator Leopold Galtieri’s rule, he launched a marine invasion of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island and fought a 10-week war with the British task force sent to liberate them, which Argentina ultimately lost. His government fell a few weeks later, while the Conservative government of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was propelled to a landslide victory the following year.
However, Buenos Aires has never given up its claim to be the rightful rulers of the archipelago. Even right-wing former President Mauricio Macri, who said in 2016 he wanted a “new kind of relationship” with London over the Falklands, also said later that Argentinian sovereignty over the islands is “a legitimate and irrevocable claim, which unites all Argentines beyond our differences.”
Indeed, a poll conducted late last month by consulting firm Julio Aurelio-Aresco found that 80% of Argentines believe “the country should continue to demand the end of British occupation” of the islands, the UK Express reported.
“These expressions respond to the pro-British stance of an opposition sector linked to the policy carried out by Macrismo, trying to naturalize the occupation of our territory, claiming a surrender policy,” Melella continued, adding that “during the Macri administration, we suffered a process of demalvinization. Not only was no measure taken to allow progress in the resumption of the negotiations as proposed by UN Resolution 2065/65, but it was yielded to every demand of the United Kingdom.”
The UN resolution, dating to 1965, notably referred to the “cherished aim of bringing to an end everywhere colonialism in all its forms, one of which covers the case of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” and urged the UK and Argentina to come to a peaceful solution to their dispute.
“The Argentine people are very clear about the Malvinas belonging to their territory, and for the Fuegians and Fuegians in particular, this National Cause is part of our DNA,” Melella continued. “We must be united and united in the face of this advance by the right, so as not to suffer again the ravages of a foreign policy at the service of colonialism.”
It’s unclear to whom Melella was referring, but several critical comments by prominent Argentines in recent weeks have reignited debate about the issue.
One is Sabrina Ajmechet, a professor of Argentine Political Thought at the University of Buenos Aires and a National Assembly candidate for Buenos Aires in the November elections on the Juntos por el Cambio ticket, a political coalition that includes Macri’s Republican Proposal. After she announced her candidacy last month, several past comments by her began to surface that aroused fury, such as that Malvinas do not exist, the Falkland Islands belong to the “kelpers,” a term for residents of the islands.
When former home secretary Patricia Bullrich, who is presently chairwoman of Republican Proposal, came to her defense by saying Ajmechet “has a historian’s vision of the issue” and that the furious response amounted to ”academic debates out of context,” it only further fanned the flames.
Then, last week, Beatriz Sarlo, a prominent Argentinian essayist and cultural critic, stirred the pot further by saying in a television interview that “the Falklands are a British territory.”
“When people say ‘the Falklands are Argentine’ they do not sit down for a minute to think, if they are Argentine, if they are not Argentine, nor what are the Falklands,” Sarlo said, adding that the islands resemble “the south of Scotland.”
She went on to call the 1982 invasion “a national psychotic act.” The war resulted in the deaths of 649 Argentinian military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three kelpers.
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