Chilean community in Falklands march in support of the air link with Santiago
One hundred members of the Chilean population living in the Falkland Islands were joined by 50 to 60 Islanders in a show of unity against the possibility that the weekly Lan Chile flight between Santiago and the Falklands might be discontinued at the request of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.
The flight operates every Saturday out of Santiago and once a month stops in Rio Gallegos in Argentina which allows Argentine passport holders to visit the Falklands.
The group met, appropriately on Victory Green in Stanley, on a windy evening and many more Islanders gathered along the main street, Ross Road, to show their support to the Chileans who have integrated into the community in a relaxed and informal manner.
Many of the Chilean men represent the Falklands National football team in International Games in competitions in Finland, Sweden and England.
The purpose of the demonstration was two-fold. The Chileans were showing solidarity with Falkland Islanders and the Falkland Islanders were confirming their support for the Chileans in their desire to retain their weekly air link with their homeland.
The Chileans sang their National Anthem with great passion and joy, and many Islanders who have learned the words, joined in.
Antoine Daillie a Chilean who is married to an Islander and who works for the Development Corporation said that it was a message to their own government in Santiago to remember that they have a Chilean community living in the Falklands and he begged them not to bow down to pressure from Mrs Kirchner to discontinue the weekly Lan flight.
'If the flight is stopped then how can we get back home to see our Mothers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters', said Mr. Daillie.
Gonzalo Perez said: 'We are paid good salaries in the Falklands and this enables us to send money back to Chile to support our families. If the flight is discontinued then many of us will be forced to return home and we can no longer help our loved ones'.
The Chileans were adamant that this was NOT an anti-Argentine demonstration and that it was a message to their own President in Santiago not to abandon them by listening to Argentine propaganda.
An estimated 250 Chileans are integrated to the Falklands community. Stanley has a population of 1.800.
By a special correspondent from Stanley - MercoPress