Falklands’ referendum will send strong message to world public opinion
The Falkland Islands don’t expect Argentina to accept the results of the coming referendum, but will show the rest of the world, particularly South and Central America that the Islands are a democracy and have the right to self determination, said Falklands’ lawmakers in an interview with the Mexican newspaper Excelsior.
“Do you honestly believe the Argentines are going to admit the results of the referendum and the right of Islanders to decide their future? No. We are only targeting world public opinion, and in South and Central America to show them we are a democratic nation and thus when Argentina insists on aggressions and the blockade some countries will stand up and tell them: ‘hey Argentina, we are dealing with a democracy, people who believe in democracy, with the people’s right to decide their future, we must overcome the situation’”, said MLA Barry Elsby.
The two Falklands lawmakers made a tour of several Latinamerican countries following their participation as observers at the Parlamericas assembly in Panama and in Mexico City were met with reporters from one of the leading dailies that was re-published in the Excelsior network.
The purpose of the visit that also included Colombia, Guatemala, Panama and Mexico was to present the Falklands case in a region where only the Argentine side of the story is normally heard.
“We can’t continue to be bombarded by a bullying Argentina, who also expects other neighbouring countries to support her. We are holding the referendum (next March 2013) to send a clear and direct message: we want to talk, to work, to trade with Central and South America, and Argentina is only blockading those possibilities. Sometimes we think Argentina does not understand democracy as we do: self determination, people deciding on their future”, added MLA Elsby.
The Falklands lawmakers said that referendum will have international observers so they can see with their own eyes how the process evolves with transparency and fairness, and advisors are helping to draft the question for the referendum, ‘exact, clear and reasonable so there is no room for misinterpretations’.
“We are going to be as open as possible to everybody including from the Argentine government so they can come to the Falklands, follow the event and publish articles on what they have seen”, pointed out Elsby who indicated that all those in the Islands’ electoral registry are entitled to cast a vote.
“The question has not yet been decided, it sounds simple: a question, but it is quite more complicated: it must be easy to understand, so they are no doubts and no later debate, because we will be establishing our political future”, said MLA Dick Sawle.
Further on MLA Sawle said that the Falklands feel continually irritated by the policies of the current Argentine government, “here you have a country with over 40 million people acting with extreme aggressiveness towards a nation of 3.000 people: it’s entirely unfair”.
Likewise these actions only work against public opinion in the Falklands and make it very difficult for the Falklands to open any kind of forum discussion with Argentina.
“With the government of former president Carlos Menem in the nineties, we had a fluid dialogue with benefits for both sides: Argentines no longer needed visa to visit the Falklands, there are no restrictions on them travelling to the Islands or maintaining Argentine names in our territory. The cemetery at Darwin the memorial where the remains of the Argentines who died during the (1982) war was built and continue there; we have kept our part of the deal, but not Argentina”.
MLA Sawle said the UK fully supports the Falklands right to self determination and will never enter negotiations on sovereignty with Argentina without consulting the Falklands.
“Cristina Fernandez says the UK must sit down to negotiate but with an only one fixed idea: sovereignty, but the UK position is that it will not talk with Argentina without including us, our rights and our constitution. This is a three-legged situation and we must be included, we are very happy to talk to Argentina but not sovereignty, because we have the right to be British and so we wish to be”, underlined MLA Sawle.
But despite the close links with the UK, and all the propaganda regarding the sovereignty dispute, Argentines visit the Falklands the year round, even participate in local sports events, and Islanders also travel to Argentina.
“It’s a beautiful country; people are very friendly and when we tell them we are from the Falklands they immediately tells us the (1982) war was something terrible and senseless, and that it must be overcome”, said MLA Sawle.