Falklands’ lawmaker Gavin Short regretted on Tuesday in Bolivia that the governments of South America take for granted the Argentine version of the conflict between Argentina and the UK over the Islands sovereignty without ever having listened to the other side.
“I feel sorry because the governments of South America and in many other regions have accepted, totally, the Argentine version when they are not aware of our position and have not dialogued with the other side in the dispute, they haven’t seen the other side of the coin”, said Member of the Legislative Assembly Short in a brief dialogue with journalists in the Bolivian capital La Paz.
MLA Short arrived in La Paz with journalist Stacy Bragger, news editor of the Falklands Radio Service with the purpose of presenting in Bolivia the position of the Islanders vis-à-vis what they consider “a gross distortion of the truth” from the part of Argentina.
The Falklands’ delegation visit coincided with the 31st anniversary of the beginning of the war between Argentina and the UK following the Argentine military invasion of the Islands 2 April 1982.
MLA Short admitted “there is a real problem in the positions of the regional leaders” regarding the conflict because they have been ‘persuaded’ without having listened to the history events from the inhabitants of the Falklands.
He added he will willingly accept any opportunity from any of the South American governments to explain the position and thinking of the Falkland Islanders.
“We know beforehand there won’t be major changes; it makes sense to think so, but all we have to do is to continue reporting on the true historic facts and then we should have a chance, minimum but a possibility”, said MLA Short.
The Falklands lawmaker strongly defended the recent March referendum held in the Islands for which there was an overwhelming turnout and vote in favour of continuing as a British Overseas Territory.
“People are happy, they have the feeling that at last something was done to show the world what is they wanted, to remain British” said MLA Short who regretted Argentina does not recognize the results of the plebiscite.
He admitted the Falklands were not expecting Argentina “to say something different to what they have been saying, but it is really sad that they don’t acknowledge that the Falkland Islanders are “humans” and have basic rights as any other person to decide on their status and future.
MLA Short described the referendum as the beginning of a new path towards the adoption of greater autonomy for the Islands.
“We know the UK won’t abandon us but something which a growing number of younger generations are longing for is independence and this has been denied to us by Argentina. We know the moment we declare ourselves independent, probably we will again be invaded”
However MLA Gavin was hopeful that some day an Argentine government effectively recognizes them, even when the conflict has no solution in sight in the short term.
“The solution is in the hands of Argentina even if they decided to drop their claims tomorrow and say ‘Yes, malvinenses, we recognize you; you are a small country, it will take a long time for the inhabitants of the Islands to believe them”, said MLA Short.
The Falklands’ delegation is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with an official from the Bolivian government which has always supported the Argentine position.
On Tuesday, Malvinas Veteran Day in Argentina, president Cristina Fernandez speaking from Puerto Madryn said that the Malvinas claim had become a ‘global cause’ against colonialism and in support of dialogue with the UK, as mandated by the UN.