“The Falklands Islands are a funny place, it's not for everybody, it's quite a different lifestyle, but if you love it, you tend to really love it. People who come to the Falklands and make the Islands their home generally stay,” MLA Leona Roberts told the Spanish news agency EFE, in an interview at the Falklands House in London.
That is how it always has been and that trend continues, adds the Falklands lawmaker. The Falklands is a multi cultural community, with some 3,200 people and sixty different nationalities. There are Falkland Islanders, British, St Helena, Chileans and to a lesser extent Uruguayans, Peruvians, Brazilians, Argentines, from Philippines and some from Zimbabwe, many of which arrived to work and decided to live with their families in the Islands.
Everybody is welcome, including the Argentines and can opt for a British Passport after five years residence in the Islands, but before establishing they must arrive with a work contract and residence, points out MLA Leona Roberts who also underlines that her family has been in the Falklands for nine generations.
The inflow of people from different origins in the forty years since the end of the war triggered by the Argentine invasion of the Islands, which ended with the defeat of the invaders and the Liberation on 14 June 1982, has helped create this cultural fusion, and a community which is open but closely knit, cohesive.
According to Leona this has also led to greater gastronomic opportunities, not limited to the traditional mutton and potatoes of the Falklands sheep farming diet. Diversification has meant fish, proliferation of empanadas with Chilean wines, Asian dishes and other exotic exquisite surprises.
Even our English sausage rolls are different, we make them with minced lamb, onions and herbs with a more consistent dough, and besides we have our half morning break, 'smoko', a cup of tea with a good slice of cake, which comes from sheep farming tradition.
But despite the multicultural diversity, we are Falkland Islanders, proud people who have lived in the Islands for generations, my family nine, and based on our right to self determination, we are also proud of our links, association with the United Kingdom, emphasized MLA Roberts.
The Falklands are self sufficient, receive no aid or subventions from the UK, we are an autonomous government, be it not for defense and foreign affairs. The economy has fisheries as its main component, 53% of GDP, followed by tourism and agriculture
However this does not mean the Falklands does not have problems. Brexit, UK-s exit from the European Union has had an impact on meat exports and squid sales to Spain, where access tariffs must be paid, and which we are trying to solve....
But this is also a problem for Spain since the port of Vigo has a significant trade with the Falklands, Falklands trawlers are built in Galician shipyards, so we are in permanent dialogue with everybody whom we believe can give us a hand with this challenge
Finally no intentions or talks of dropping the close association with the UK, or the people of the Falklands changing their minds about our close identity with the British Family.
In 2013 a referendum was held, with international observers, including an Argentine, and the Falklands' people turned out in mass and overwhelmingly, 99,8%, voted to remain as a British Overseas Territory. Only three people did not vote to Remain.
Self determination is basic and essential, no need for a second referendum. In 2013 one of the reasons for holding it was that Argentines claimed the British had us locked in at gun point in the Islands, ...nonsense. MLA Roberts added, we understand the Scottish debate on independence and I believe they are planning or hoping for another one.