British Prime Minister David Cameron stated on Friday that Pope Francis had been wrong to say last year that Britain had usurped the Falkland Islands from Argentina, saying he respectfully disagreed with the new Pontiff. His words have been interpreted as a message anticipating the Argentine government’s possible attempts to get the new pope involved in the dispute.
The British media, The Sun and The Times playing the nationalist chord quoted Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio saying at a mass last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the war over the Falkland/Malvinas between Britain and Argentina that the territory had been usurped. In 2010 he was quoted as saying it was ours.
When asked whether he agreed with the former archbishop of Buenos Aires on the issue, Cameron invoked this week’s referendum results with a massive turnout (92%) confirming they wanted to remain a British Overseas Territory (98%).
I disagree with him, respectfully said the British PM adding that residents of the Falklands had made it clear in the referendum that they wanted to remain under British rule.
There was a pretty extraordinarily clear referendum in the Falkland Islands Cameron told a news conference in Brussels, where he was attending a European Union summit.
That is a message to everyone in the world that the people of these Islands have chosen very clearly the future they want. That choice should be respected by everyone.
The white smoke over the Falklands was pretty clear, Cameron said, jokingly referring to the signal over the Sistine Chapel that announces the successful election of a new pope.
PM Cameron is probably anticipating an attempt from the Argentine government to try and have Pope Francis involved in the South Atlantic sovereignty dispute which was implied in President Cristina Fernandez first reactions to the naming of Cardinal Bergoglio calling on ‘world powers to abide international resolutions’ and repeated by several of her cabinet ministers.
Argentina considers the referendum ‘illegal’ because Falkland Islanders are not entitled to self-determination since they are an ‘implanted population’ in a colonial territory.
The government of President Cristina Fernandez had anticipated it would ignore the results of the ballot and reiterated Britain had to comply with UN resolutions calling for bilateral talks on the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty. The Argentine president described the referendum as a “meeting of squatters”.
Likewise in Buenos Aires the head of Lower House Julián Domínguez called to pray to God for the Pope to be “an instrument” that helps build dialogue channels with the UK over the sovereignty of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.
A Malvinas War veteran himself, Domínguez said the first image that crossed his mind when he echoed the news about Bergolglio’s election as Pope was “the Argentine flag in the South Atlantic territories” and confirmed that he will be attending the inauguration mass of Francis’ papacy.
“I am going to go to pray for the Malvinas Islands and for Argentines” the Victory Front lawmaker and former Agriculture minister said.
In statements to media, Domínguez considered a “gift of God” the fact that the first non-European pope in modern times was a Latin American pontiff and called to live this moment with “hope” and as a “unique opportunity.”
He also praised Bergoglio’s decision to name himself Francis –chosen after Saint Francis of Assisi-, as a “strong signal” of a “social thinking” that is aligned with the government’s social inclusion model that “focuses on the people and (puts) the state at the service of most vulnerable sectors”.
Dominguez seems to have forgotten that relations between the Kirchner couple (both presidents Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez) with Francis have been less than cordial since Cardinal Bergoglio has repeatedly talked in his homilies about poverty in Argentina and corruption (active and passive) in the political system.