Argentine president letter to PM Cameron demanding return of Falklands, “a sign of “profound weakness”
Argentine president Cristina Fernandez has been left “frustrated” by the refusal of other Latin American nations to back Argentina’s long-standing claim to the Falkland Islands, Klaus Dodds, Geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London, said.
An emotional open letter from Kirchner to David Cameron demanding the return of the Malvinas Islands which she claims were “forcibly stripped” from her country, published Thursday in The Guardian newspaper, is a sign of “profound weakness,” Prof Dodds said.
The Falklands had no established Argentine population at the time the British took control and Argentina was itself an ambitious colonial power in the nineteenth century, he added.
The Argentine junta invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, at a cost of 659 Argentine lives and 258 British.
The publication of the letter was timed to mark the anniversary of when on 3 January 1833 Britain took control of the Falklands from Argentina. It reads: “The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.
But Prof Dodds said the history of the Islands was “a lot more complicated” than President Cristina Fernandez would admit.
“In the 1760s and 1770s you find a fundamentally messy history of the Falklands, involving the British, the French, the Spanish, and the nascent Argentine republic as well as a little Irish presence as well,” he said.
“When the president claims the British threw out the Argentines, I think that’s a little bit of a rhetorical over-flourish. It wasn’t as if there was an indigenous Argentine population there for centuries; far from it.”
The thing about the letter which I think is very telling is the notion that somehow Britain is the only colonial power. It is laughable,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“For much of the nineteenth century Argentina did one thing terribly well and that was to colonise other territories. It also, like Britain, makes a claim to the Antarctic and behaves in a colonial-like manner.”
He said PM Cameron should acknowledge the letter, but added: “I frankly would not take it very seriously. If anything it is a sign of profound weakness and frustration.”
Cristina Fernandez insisted her claim on the Malvinas Islands was backed by her South American neighbors, but Prof Dodds said it had left Argentina isolated in the region. Chile runs a successful airway to the Falkland Islands, supporting trade and tourism.
“This is inconvenient truth for the Argentine president. Argentina is not always the most-liked country in Latin America. It is perceived as a rather arrogant country and a country that is very capable of promoting its own interests when it suits. The frustration for her is she hasn’t got more support from its neighbors”.