A Panamanian view of the Falkland Islands
Yasmina Reyes is the Editor of the International Section of the La Prensa newspaper in Panama City and was one of the journalists from Central America that recently traveled to the Falkland Islands. She has written the guest post below about her experience.
Bruce Callow - When my director told me I was going to travel to the Falkland Islands I thought I was hearing wrong. The Falklands? Wow! That is at the end of the world. All I knew of them was purely theoretical: claims, disputes, an invasion (or war, according to the source). Now I was going to know them personally.
It’s a bit like having a pen pal and finally getting to meet him in person. How tall will he be? How is his tone of voice? Is he really like he is in photos? This was going to be a journey of discovery.
And yes, this pen pal was very different from the image I had formed of him. It was a bit like Rip Van Winkle. The people I met in the Falklands were totally different than what I had had in my mind. I expected to find a little Latin flavor or at least South American (for the Argentine claim), but no. It was as if I had arrived in England with the red telephone booths and red mail boxes with monograms of Queen Elizabeth II. Besides that she greets you at every public office.
On the way to Stanley from the airport located in the Mount Pleasant military base 40 miles away, I got in touch with local realities. I thought the crazy driver approaching us was going to kill us until I realized that the British drive on the left and when our driver waved to the other driver it was not to retake the right lane but to say hello. After all, everyone in the Falkland Islands knows each other.
That was just a first clue. Reaching the capital of the Falkland Islands, as its residents proudly call them, there is no doubt that this is a British community. With some pain, an Argentine veteran who traveled to the Islands to honor his fallen comrades from the 1982 war and lay at rest in the Argentine Cemetery, felt it too. With great emotion he told our group of journalists that it hurt to see that there was nothing of his homeland.
Throughout our stay we were often offered tea and biscuits. And for those of us who learned our rudimentary English from American nuns, it was necessary to change a little switch to adapt to the nuances of the British accent, and “shall” instead of “will”.
These people have no doubt about their identity. They are Falkland Islanders and have strong ties with the United Kingdom. This will certainly be reflected in the referendum next March. All of the Falkland Islanders I spoke with are anxious to have the opportunity to express to the world that they have the right to decide their own future.
Don’t miss my special report in La Prensa of Panama in the 3 November edition where I will expand on my experiences in the Falkland Islands. http://www.prensa.com/