Falkland Islands provided twenty five Argentine nationals with humanitarian aid (food, warmth and shelter) following the announcement of a week long delay to their return flight to Chile. The group was made up of marathon runners and associates who came to the Islands on March 19 and participated in the Sunday Standard Chartered bank Stanley Marathon. The competition was won by Argentine athlete Rafael Lencina in record time.
Following a week of visits to different iconic places in the Islands and meeting with locals the party was supposed to take the following Saturday Lan Chile flight which never turned up, leaving them stranded and with little resources.
Falklands Government Public Relations Manager Krysteen Ormond confirmed their office had been contacted by an accommodation provider early in the week who explained that a number of guests had expressed their inability to pay for further accommodation. The situation was the same across two other accommodation providers.
Ms. Ormond said the proprietors did not wish to ask their guests to leave but could not afford to house and feed so many non paying guests. A plan was formed and the members of the soon to be homeless group were provided with mattresses and sleeping bags in the Town Hall.
They were given access to tea and coffee in the refreshment room and received Red Cross volunteer visits. The Seamen’s Centre provided three hot meals a day, access to showers, internet and other homely facilities such as television and games.
Two members of the party later addressed an open letter to the Penguin News which was published in this Friday's edition thanking Falkland Islanders for their hospitality, and treatment throughout their stay in the Falklands.
Follows the letter: “Sincere thanks from stranded Argentine runners”
We are a couple of Argentine runners, who participated in the Standard Chartered Stanley Marathon last Sunday, along with a contingent of runners of our country, Islander runners and runners from other countries around the world.
First of all we want to thank the organizers, and especially all the people of Stanley for the excellent and friendly treatment during competition and throughout the stay and our visits in the Falklands.
As we began our journey from the city of Cordoba in central Argentina, we had three objectives:
1) To complete the marathon in the maximum time of six hours
2) Knowing this land that has so much meaning for our country
3) Create ties of friendship with the people who live here, with both right and effort.
Never before we had run the distance of a marathon, and with much happiness we can say that we achieved our first objective.
Our second objective was met in part. We visited some battlefields, museums, toured the town, visited and left offerings at both war cemeteries (San Carlos and Darwin) visited beaches and penguin colonies.We say partially because there are so many other places to visit that remain for another trip, if God permits.
Our third objective had a good start. Argentines have much to learn from the people of the Falkland Islands, their history, their culture, their community life, their lifestyle and the way they see us and the relationship between our countries.
Thanks to many conversations with local people, we could understand how and what has been and the things that have ruined in the past or currently the relationship with Argentina.
We can also say now that there are many prejudices on both sides of the sea, which are far from reality, and are just tools for the malicious.
We were able to understand (not only from this trip) the negative effects caused by irrational actions from our country to the Islands and its people.
We have learned a lot from the Falklanders, the enormous effort they have made for up to six or eight generations, their tenacity and perseverance, their patience, the constant pursuit of progress, their admirable order, the beautiful residences with gardens and orchards.
We also want to tell you that in Argentina we are having new times. We are the vast majority who want to start a new era in relations with the United Kingdom, and of course, a new era with close relations of respect, dialogue and cooperation with the Falkland Islanders.
We strongly believe that the absolutist positions and irreconcilable differences defended by those who have brought us to this point, on both sides, will never be fair or definitive solutions.
We believe in history, the only positive and definitive way to turn a painful page, not indifference, much less suspicion and threats.
Sometimes, the States cannot, for various reasons, bring a solution.
The best and sometimes only way is through well intentioned people who work from both sides to bring our peoples close.
God grant that, just as Argentines are learning a lot about the Falkland Islanders, you can also understand that the vast majority of the Argentines also Desire the Right.
Once again thank you for your hospitality. We hope to return to participate in this beautiful event next year. And of course we are at your disposal.