News has recently arrived in the Falkland Islands of the death of former Governor, Mr. Ernest Gordon (Toby) Lewis. OBE, CMG, in London, at the age of 88.
Mr Lewis, a New Zealander, was Governor of the South Atlantic Archipelago for four years from the 8th of January, 1971, until January 1975, arriving just after the first of a short series of talks between the Argentine and British governments, supposedly 'exploratory' and concentrating on communications between Argentina and the Islands, which, as Las Islas Malvinas, have been the subject of an Argentine sovereignty claim since 1833. Following on from these preliminary talks in London and a subsequent visit to the Islands by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) negotiating team in June 1971, an agreement was signed in 1971 between the Argentine and British Governments, which despite FCO protests to the contrary, many Islanders considered a betrayal and the first step in a process which would lead ultimately to the Islands being handed over to Argentine jurisdiction. Among the consequences of this agreement, made more critical by the ending of a previous maritime passenger and cargo link between the Islands and Montevideo, was the handing over to the Argentine Government of total control over the Islands' external communications, along with their acquisition of a monopoly over the supply of certain essential types of fuel. Many Falkland Islands governors have commented on the conflict which sometimes arises between their role as the representative in the Islands of the British Government and their role in Whitehall as representative of the wishes and feelings of the Falkland Islands Government and people. It is likely that few have felt this conflict as keenly as Governor Lewis, whose remains will be cremated at Putney Vale in London on January 16th. The existence of such a conflict may explain why, when Mr.Lewis and his wife left the Falkland Islands, he received this slightly muted testimonial from the Falkland Islands Times, the Islands' newspaper of the day: "He was known as a cautious man, who could be unorthodox at times. He worked here during a turbulent period in world and local affairs and usually sough,t to use his famous metaphor, 'to pour oil on troubled waters' ÃÂ¢€" although not everyone agreed with this policy." John Fowler - MercoPress - Stanley