As New Year’s resolutions go, “reclaiming” a cluster of islands you forgot to stick a flag in 180 years ago is certainly up there. Especially if you’ve been trying and failing miserably for 30 years. After you lost a war for it.
I’m writing from the alleged capital of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands), Ushuaia on Argentina’s mainland, where it’s blatantly obvious that the Argentinians are like an obsessive ex-boyfriend who thinks an intervention order means there’s still hope.
This week, the Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner celebrated the 180 year anniversary of British rule with an open tirade at British Prime Minister David Cameron and advertisements in the British press, lobbying for the islands to be handed back to Argentina.
The problem is that Argentina only ever claimed ownership of them for four days. In 1832. While the British had first named them in 1690 and set up shop in the 1700s.
Not to mention the fact that adopting the sovereignty of a country whose season of goodwill was marred by rioting in major cities and a clampdown on stock-piling of foreign currency hardly sounds appealing.
The locals couldn’t be more politely pissed (definitely a British trait).
“Unlike the government of Argentina, the United Kingdom respects the right of our people to determine our own affairs, a right that is enshrined in the UN charter and which is ignored by Argentina,” Barry Elsby, a member of the Islands’ legislative assembly said.
They will hold a referendum in March and are expected to overwhelmingly declare themselves Poms.
Cameron called on Argentina to stop rewriting the history books, get a new hobby and honour the result.
On every spare space of wall or roadside in Ushuaia there are signs declaring the Islands Argentinian, while information boards spout about the illegal occupation by British pirates.
The Islands are even included in the government’s territory of Terra Del Fuego and listed as Argentinan on their world maps.
My British travelling companions, who initially laughed off the barrage of signs, quickly became frustrated.
“Does Germany claim to own Poland, half of France and Austria – no, because they lost the war!” they fumed.
How different the world map would be if borders were rewritten based on forgotten intentions, failed conquests and wishes!
If that were the case, Argentina would quickly learn that you should be careful what you wish for. Some cold islands in the middle of nowhere, the oil in the surrounding waters, and the right to label a larger wedge of Antarctica as their own would be no consolation when the Spanish flag returned.
But, like most New Year’s resolutions, this declaration is bound to fall flat. It’s all talk and no action.
An unused gym membership, an empty filing cabinet covered in papers, a circled job advertisement never applied for. A desperate stab at stirring nationalism and a distraction from the country’s overweight crime statistics and wobbling economy - where the real resolutions should be made.
Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…