The Falkland Islands latest Penguin News editorial picks on the Chagos Islanders controversy surfaced by Ambassador Alicia Castro and laments that Argentina insists that Falkland Islanders 'are a non people entitled to nothing', but on the other hand had it not been for the Argentine act of aggression that shone a spotlight on our existence as a population, we too might have ended up a people without a place.
Lisa Watson, who signs the editorial argues that as a sixth generation Islander, having spent my life believing I am part of a ‘people’ entitled to determine our own future, it’s so difficult to truly digest the lament that in fact I am, according to Ms Castro, a nobody. I am part of a non-people entitled to nothing.
Ms Watson points out that she was not unaware the Chagossians were treated quite horrifically by the UK Government in the late 1960s when they were expelled from their home to make way for a US military base, but I had often wondered why Argentines thought that in turn, Falkland Islanders should be treated just as badly. How was this an ethical argument.
Nevertheless if the lady (a member of a nation whose descendents usurped South America no less) feels such empathy for the former residents of Chagos she should bear in mind that the Falkland Islanders’ respect for the UK Foreign Office was probably on a par with that of the Chagossian people in the 1960s and 70s..
According to Ms Watson, at the time like the Chagossians we were an inconvenience and as such our wishes were increasingly discounted. In fact it is ironic that were it not for the Argentine act of aggression that shone a spotlight on our existence as a population, we too might have ended up a people without a place.
Historian Peter Pepper sums the UK FCO’s treatment of both ourselves and the Chagossians: “I think that the treatment of both Falkland and Chagos Islanders then was a violation of their rights to self-determination - even by the standards then.”
Ms Watson adds that standards since then have changed: we were lucky in that our wrong was righted (we can only wish the Chagossians luck in their ongoing litigation) but in terms of this particular argument Castro’s demand for ‘a policy of dialogue and respect between peoples and nations’ is farcical.
”The Argentine Government does not see us as a people and as such has no respect for us. The Argentine Government’s standards have not changed. They accuse the British Government of living in the past ,“a typical 19th Century colonial saga,” yet close their eyes to rights of a population that blatantly pays no resemblance whatsoever to that with which they compare it (a military base).
Finally bearing in mind ‘kicking and screaming’ is something of an Argentine Government forte - perhaps there still exists a chance they will one day be dragged into the 21st Century”.