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When FIC tried to buy Peninsula Valdes and land in Tierra del Fuego

Friday, December 29th 2023 - 10:50 UTC
Full article 7 comments
Peninsula Valdes is currently a nature reserve and a great tourist attraction for whale watching and enjoying sights of other sea mammals and sea birds Peninsula Valdes is currently a nature reserve and a great tourist attraction for whale watching and enjoying sights of other sea mammals and sea birds

The history section of daily “Diario del Fin del Mundo”, edited in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego province, extreme south of Argentina, recalls that almost a century and a half ago, more precisely December 1881, the Falkland Islands Company, FIC, “at the time with total control over the Falklands economy”, approached the Argentine government offering to buy the total of Peninsula Valdes, Chubut province and an area in Tierra del Fuego next to San Sebastian Bay, and its surrounding 160 leguas (league) for the rearing of sheep.

The Valdes peninsula is currently a nature reserve and world heritage, renowned for its spectacular fauna, marine mammals, sea birds, and the resting and calving area for migrating whales, plus a strategic position in the South Atlantic. Sebastian Bay in Tierra del Fuego and its surrounding territory only had a minor indigenous population with a windy weather similar to the Falklands and a vast open territory of poor pastures, but ideal for sheep rearing, as happens nowadays. (A league is a measure equivalent to an hour's walking distance).

The presentation to Argentine authorities was done by William Harvey who had a Royal Charter from Her Majesty's government for the colonization of the Falkland Islands, and thus had the necessary background for “requesting most respectfully the purchase, with the purpose of colonizing, populating with cattle and improving them, the following pieces of land belonging to the Argentine Republic”. The request was presented to Home Minister Antonio del Viso, according to a document, number 17 from the Central Chubut Railway.

FIC requested the acquisition of the “Peninsula, according to English Admiralty charters designated as Valdes, and by the Argentine Republic as San Jose. FIC also offered to buy some 160 leagues in the San Sebastian Bay, Tierra del Fuego Island.”

William Harvey offered to pay for that land the same price the Argentine government had received for the land sold to cover the Rio Negro expedition costs, that is some $F 400, four hundred Strong Pesos per square league”

The sum amounted to some 24,000 pounds of that time.

The FIC colonization plan included populating the land to be purchased with 680,000 sheep.

The piece comments that the purchase operation was in the framework of an expansion strategy, with the purpose of increasing its wool industry and have a beach head on the continent from where to exploit resources in the Argentine Sea.

The offer also contemplated bringing at FIC's own cost a sufficient number of immigrants from Europe to work, large scale, in the acquired estancia (farm land).

The FIC proposal was rejected by the government of president Julio Argentino Roca, known in Argentine history books as the leader who confirmed the recovery of Patagonia for the country, mainly from Chilean advances.

Finally it mentions that FIC by that time had consolidated its monopolist dominion of the Falklands, particularly trade, transport and the sheep industry, with its managers and farm foremen important figures in the Islands political life.

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  • Jo Bloggs

    Thankfully FIC is no longer the monopoly it once was. Come to think of it, I can think of no single product or service that one must use FIC for. Sadly, their attitude is still that of a monopolistic company with terrible customer service and prices to match.

    Dec 29th, 2023 - 01:38 pm +3
  • Jo Bloggs

    Poor old Think

    None of the goods / services you just mentioned are the exclusive bailiwick of FIC. Not one.

    More Land Rover (other brands are available) vehicles were sold in the islands by companies other than FIC in 2023. FIC is no more a Land Rover authorised dealer/ repairer than I am. Their sign looks convincing though.

    There are at least two other businesses I am aware of here that sell insurance.” I buy almost all of my groceries at supermarkets other than the West Store. It is cramped, has a shitty car park and is generally unpleasant to shop at compared to the fine examples presented by their competitors.

    If I need to buy plumbing and electrical items I prefer to shop at the (of all names) Plumbing and Electrical Store. Not only does it have the best stock of such items, it is owned and operated by a plumber and an electrician; both of whom are more than willing to dispense their advice. Failing them I head to Lifestyles, another store with a thorough range of items. After them SATLAN and Stanley Services stock various items.

    I can’t remember what else you cited but, as I said, FIC have a stranglehold on nothing these days.

    They failed to operate the (slightly) famous Upland Goose whilst its competitor, the Malvina House Hotel went from strength to strength expanding several times through the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s.

    Their once dominant shipping agency now barely has a client. Another private company has absolutely made fools of them in this areas.They claim to be the agency for several airlines but don’t even have staff with the credentials to step foot on the tarmac at Mount Pleasant. The same other company as just above… same.

    There are several other motor dealers, mechanical garages, coffee shops (actual decent ones), cafes, gift shops, hardware stores, clothing stores, car hire, plant hire, building services… etc…etc. other than those owned by FIC.

    I am guessing it’s at least 30 years since you’ve been here. That’s if you have been here at all.

    Dec 29th, 2023 - 04:31 pm +3
  • Jo Bloggs

    FIC’s lesser relevance only makes us stronger. Why would we support this UK-based relic of the past in the dynamic work we live in now. A world where we take care of most of our affairs ourselves. A world where we now have better and direct access to UK parliament. A world where our brave men and women at Mount Pleasant now flock to Stanley because all of our services and retail outlets are better than theirs. Not so long ago the exact opposite was the case.

    No, Think, FIC and FIG / Falklands are not interdependent. As for the FIA, I’m not convinced they’ve ever had much traction; not since FIGO got up and running properly, anyhow.

    Nice try though. I can see how somebody who doesn’t know the modern Falklands may think the way you do- not withstanding your natural propensity to attempt to spin everything you say in favour of “another nail in the Falklands coffin,”

    The new boy in the Pink Palace is doing a cracking job. Don’t you think? Not waiting around to be told by some men in the shadows in grey suits how it’s all meant to work.

    Dec 29th, 2023 - 07:07 pm +3
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